Resources for teaching statistics: Teacher Preparation
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Scholarship 2015 Scholarship Statistics discussion group

This workshop gave teachers an opportunity to meet with other teachers working with Scholarship Statistics students. Teachers discussed ideas and ways to run successful

Scholarship Statistics programmes. Tony Stanton (Rutherford College) and Mark Hooper (Otago Boys High School) shared their ideas.

Facilitators: Anna Martin and Dr Marie Fitch, University of Auckland

Summary of discussion led by Tony Stanton

Tony has been at Rutherford for six years. Each year they have between 5 – 10 students participating in the Scholarship Statistics programme. They don’t have a strict selection process – if students are interested they can come to the tutorials. They also look for and target students based on results from previous years and internals for the current year. Student perception can be that Scholarship Statistics is hard but this is not necessarily the case. Tony think there was better retention this year in the programme because students had to pay for entry. The tutorials were run after school starting at the end of term 1 – each one around 1 to 1.5 hours.

Tony used Google classroom and Google docs to set assignments. The idea was that students would try out the questions in the assignments before coming to the session to discuss the answers. This changed over the year so that the sessions were used more for discussion and collaboration within the Scholarship group about the questions set in the assignment. One of the reasons for this was that student often didn’t know how to start solving the problem themselves. One of the advantages of using Google was direct feedback to students and also students could share their work. Sharing work had to be negotiated with students – Tony felt some were initially embarrassed about sharing their work. But after a few times of sharing work students gained confidence and could see the merits of this approach. The discussion with students was not always about how to do the question but also about how they were marked e.g. looking at exemplar scripts and looking for what was and what was not accepted by the marker.

Tony mostly used past exam questions, some from SINCOS (mixed quality) and thinks commercial papers like SINCOS could be getting better because there are more years of the re-aligned Scholarship papers available. Students sat a practice exam for Scholarship Statistics at the same time as the school exams, but outside of the timetabled exams as the school does not have a uniform policy for practice exams for Scholarship.

There was some discussion around how students cope with all the Scholarship tutorials. Tony said there was no school policy on timetabling Scholarship sessions and so Scholarship tutors had to negotiate with other subjects. It was also discussed need to take holistic approach with each student and discourage over entry into Scholarship subjects. Scholarship tutors need to avoid pressuring students to take your subject – think about the whole person and what is best for that student.

Tony would discuss with students how Scholarships are award (around 3% of the cohort of Level 3 statistics students e.g. 200 students roughly 6 students with Scholarship). Some students like to work independently but Tony would really encourage these students to collaborate with others. Food helps as well in terms of motivation to attend sessions.

Tony starts the programme with standards not covered in the Year 13 statistics course (e.g. AS91584 & AS91583 – main ideas being re-randomisation, experimental design, margin of errors, sampling methods), and then includes the topics/standards in the tutorials as they have been covered in class. Tutors also need to remember to cover key ideas from level 2.

Summary of discussion facilitated by Marie Fitch

It can be hard to get students (particularly boys?) to write stuff down so you can mark it and give feedback to them. Suggestions were to look closely at literacy levels of students. Also, competition helps with boys, so if you put a number on what they do (e.g. marks) this can motive them to write. Other ideas were to get students writing on the computer rather than on paper, and use competition through something like Socrative to be the first to get an answer up on the screen for others to see. And idea passed through from Louise Addison’s workshop earlier in the day was to demand writing – stand and wait until the students write something and not move on until they do write something (see the resources for Louise’s workshop).

In terms of selecting students, not many schools participating in the discussion group had a selection process – mostly let students opt in if they wanted to. One school uses performance in Social Science as a way to pick good writers which seems to work for them 🙂 Others have a partial selection process in that their accelerated pathway feeds their top students into the Scholarship programme. Some schools encourage their Year 12 students to be involved and see this as an effective way to keep students committed to the programme. There was a reminder to keep the student’s learning and achievement at the forefront. Their Level 3 achievement should come first.

Friday lunchtime sessions have not worked for some schools, but sessions at McDonalds (twice a year!) were a hit! Before school weekly tutorials are also effective and twice a term on Sunday with Pizza. Another approach was to make Scholarship part of what was taught during class time rather than running separate sessions. If you can, get your Scholarship tutorial timetabled during your non-contact that might work.

In terms of resources, people used things like the Nayland College website, SLC material, chapters from workbooks and the AME Scholarship Statistics workbook. It is important not just to focus on questions and to use the tutorial time to do interesting activities and to get them thinking. For example, using weird or controversial articles from the paper to stimulate discussion or activities – challenge students to go figure it out! The stats teachers nz facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/statsteachers/ is also a good source of articles or interesting data. The videos from Chris Wild’s Data to Insight course are also on youtube https://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/~wild/wildaboutstatistics/index.html. The “Against all odds” videos are also quite good (these have been shortened and modernised and are available here http://www.learner.org/resources/series65.html. Different applications like whatsap and facebook groups can be used to get collaboration between students. For example, they can take a photo of question, share it with the group, and then contribute answers.

To find out more about how writing is marked, use the schedule but also the exemplars. Look for things that have been ticked and things that have been ignored e.g. students who wrote comments that were too generic. The markers are not looking for waffle but for specific comments with evidence (figures and context). Focus also on the time component with students to guide their writing. They should be hitting key points and the markers are not looking for quantity. Students will need to write more concisely than the internals.

At the moment, appears that probability and probability distributions is not more than one question out of five, and some questions have become more structured – but you never know what the next exam will look like. If you are going to do a practice exam for Scholarship Statistics in Term 3 you might need to chop down a Scholarship paper, or keep in the questions not yet covered so they can see what’s in-store. It might also be good practice for them to experience the three hour exam 🙂

Don’t forget you can get access to the copyrighted material used in any exam by logging in to the secure area of the NZQA website (see your SRM for NZQA for more information).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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