W14: Adapting and Adopting High Impact, Little Time (HILT) Activities to Clarify the  Meanings of Key Words Used in Statistics

With Neal Rogness, Jackson Fox, Lori Hahn (Grand Valley State University); and Jennifer Kaplan (University of Georgia)


Participants in this workshop will join a growing community of statistics instructors who are creating, adapting, and using activities developed to help student better understand how the meanings of certain key words as used in statistics differ from their everyday meaning. These activities, known as HILT activities, are designed to have a High Impact on student learning, but require Little Time in class to implement. To date, eight HILT activities have been developed for words which include random, normal, parameter, and skew. The workshop will introduce the idea of lexical ambiguity of statistical words and acquaint attendees with HILT activities that have been developed and classroom-tested by six statistics educators whose primary teaching focus is in the introductory course. The workshop will also discuss evidence of the effectiveness for these activities using data collected from students who were exposed to the activities and data from students who were not exposed to the activities. It is hoped that, by the end of the workshop, participants will (1) identify one or more existing HILT activities to adapt for use in their fall semester introductory statistics classes; and (2) generate ideas for additional HILT activities that could be developed for other words of interest. Participants will be connected via email with the authors of the activities selected for use and the formation of an online Faculty Learning Community among the participants will be explored. Such an FLC could regularly meet via web conference to discuss usage of the HILT activities and to support one another in the development of new HILT activities.

The workshop is based on the results of an NSF-funded project (NSF DUE 1504013). The importance of language in statistics and the positive effects of joining the group can best be summed up by one of the HILT Instructors involved in the project: Prior to this study, I assumed students had an understanding of the words used in statistics. This project provided evidence that I was wrong. Bringing to light the understanding of words has assisted me in being a better teacher. I am aware of the confusion words can cause because of their everyday meaning. Providing visual illustrations of the differences in the colloquial and statistical meanings has helped solidify their meanings for my students. The HILT project has not only made me a better teacher, it has sparked an interest in the words we use and how confusion arises because of the multiple definitions.