Drives me crazy. The math is not the issue. I like the math, and, frankly, it’s not that hard. What drives me crazy is how few coping skills the students in that class really have. That became starkly apparent when I assigned this project. They have been working on it in class the last few days. You would think after spending a full six weeks talking about graphical and numerical summaries of data they would at least know what data was, but you would be wrong.
This project required students to find three sets of data: a numerical set, categorical set, and a set they thought was normally distributed. Once they found them, they had to do a series of things like make a graphical display, calculate a numerical summary, etc. The hard part has been finding the actual data. They try to google stuff like “categorical data set” to find it. I encouraged them to pick a topic they thought was interesting, think of an example in that topic that would give them the right kind of data, and then google that instead. that helped some. Some of them are still floundering trying to find data, and the project is due tomorrow! Some of them don’t even understand that their numerical data set should basically be a list of numbers. They are downloading all kinds of tables and then wondering how to make a histogram. It has left me shaking my head wondering where I went wrong.
This project seems simple, but it has revealed a lot of misunderstandings my students have. It has me seriously rethinking how I will teach this unit if I teach the course again next year (God help me.)