Thoughts on Teaching: 100 word challenge for math and statistics

When people at cocktail parties ask what I do for a living I often tell them I teach statistics to adults who don’t want to learn statistics and make math games for kids who don’t want to learn math.

(Yes, I get invited to cocktail parties. I have friends!)

Generally, the graduate students in my courses have backgrounds in education, business, social work or psychology and not so much mathematics. As a result, they are far more comfortable putting things in words than in formulae.

I ran across this blog today, on  the 100 word challenge. It was designed for creative writing for students under 16 but I think it could be applied to anything. The students are given a prompt and their assignment is to write 100 words based on that prompt. You can learn more about the 100 word challenge and read student work on their site.

I teach online courses and it is a challenge for some students to participate in the online forum discussions. Often, I think because they feel unsure of their knowledge of statistics, their responses are very short and don’t address the question. I’m trying to think of some 100 word prompts.

Here’s one for multinomial and ordinal logistic regression:

I understood R-squared and now there isn’t one. I don’t know how good my model is. Now, I’m sad.

This is for Repeated Measures ANOVA

I looked at the multivariate tests here and it was 16 different numbers! What the hell? What am I supposed to do with these? What happened to good old one p-value and one effect size?

So … what do you think? Would you use 100 word prompts to teach math?

Here’s a 100 word prompt for me – why do I think math and statistics are two different things?

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