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Using Web Applets to Foster Active Learning in the Online Statistics Course Michelle Everson Department of Educational Psychology University of Minnesota gaddy001@umn.edu Acknowledgements This work would NOT have been possible without support from the following people: My colleagues: Joan Garfield, Bob delMas, Andy Zieffler Initial idea for project came from an AIMS workshop, Summer 2008 (http://www.tc.umn.edu/~aims/) U of M College of Education Academic Technology Services Dr. David Ernst, Director of ATS Brad Hosack, New Media Developer Educational Psychology Department Chair—Dr. Susan Hupp Background In the classroom, our courses often involve lots of activity and discussion on the part of students Many activities in the classroom are “hands-on” and involve the use of different manipulatives (e.g., Post-it Notes, coins, dice, Reese’s Pieces candies, M&Ms, cookies, Gummy Bears, Pass the Pigs, etc.) As an online instructor, I have been interested in ways to replicate hands-on activities in the online environment One way to replicate such activities might be to create applets that simulate the hands-on experience The Post-it Note Activity Students are broken into small groups of about 3 or 4 (note that our typical class sizes are roughly 30 students) Each group is given a small stack of 10 Post-it Notes and a number line; students use these materials to work through questions on an activity sheet Student Learning Goals of the Activity Develop a conceptual understanding of the mean. Understand the idea of deviations (differences from the mean) and how they balance out to zero. Understand how these deviations cause the mean to be influenced by extreme values. Develop an understanding of the median as a middle value that is resistant to extreme values. Understand the differences between mean and median in their interpretation and properties. Understand how to select appropriate measures of center to represent a sample of data. What the Activity Looks Like in the Classroom Sample Questions from the Activity Move one Post-It Note to 24 years. How can you move one or more of the other Post-It Notes so that you keep the mean at 21 years? Is there more than one way to do this? Explain. Next, move all the Post-It Notes so that none of the ages are 21 years, yet the mean age is still 21 years. Describe what you did. If you change one value so it has a deviation of -3, what do you have to do one or more values to keep the mean at 21 years? Now move all of the values that are above 21 years so that each one has a higher value than it does currently. Did this have any effect on the median? Explain. How might the activity be adapted for an online environment? Given that it might be too much to expect students to purchase their own Post-it Notes and create their own number lines, we wanted to come up with other ways students could engage in this activity Initially, we tried using Fathom Online students were given instructions and questions to answer very similar to those given to classroom students, but online students manipulated dots on a dot plot in Fathom rather than Post-it Notes Students worked through the activity on their own and then shared their answers and discussed the activity in small online discussion groups Replicating the Post-it Note Activity in Fathom The Sticky Centers Applet http://projects.cehd.umn.edu/EdPsy/sc/ How we have used the applet in the online course Students are broken into small discussion groups (4 to 6 students) Students have one week to discuss assignments with their group For this particular assignment, students: Use the applet on their own and post their answers to a series of questions in their assigned discussion group by Wednesday at 10 p.m.. Come back at least twice to the discussion and comment on the thoughts and ideas posted by their peers (and answer any instructor questions) in an effort to arrive at a group response for the assignment One group member summarizes the group response and submits the summary to the instructor by the following Monday at 10 p.m. Our next project…. Is there a way we can design an applet that will lead to rich online discussions that involve: Talking about the basic elements of experimental design Considering factors that lead to within groups and between groups variability Exploring ways to graph and summarize data in order to compare groups Discussing how a two-sample t-test can be used to determine if there is a significant difference between groups In the classroom, we might use the Gummy Bears activity (Cobb & Miao, 1998; Scheaffer, Gnanadesikan, Watkins, & Witmer, 1996) to introduce many of these ideas to students. Can we somehow create a Gummy Bears applet??? The Gummy Bears Applet