Back in May I decided to register for a college level statistics course. I decided this for a couple reasons: 1.) The credits could be used to receive a teaching math credential that will be useful in the future 2) I have always enjoyed analyzing school/student data as it relates to different types of assessments. I did not take the class in high school or college. A few of my graduate school classes required me to analyze data and set goals based on certain criteria but nothing was formally titled education statistics. I would characterize myself as a rookie in the stats knowledge department. With that being said I do not remember that last time that I took a non-education college level class. Near the end of May I confirmed my registration, purchased a textbook and found a used TI-83 calculator on marketplace.
The class is from a nearby community college but I opted for the “anytime” class as it work better with my summer schedule. The class started at the beginning of June and ends close to August. It is the first time experimenting with an “anytime” class so I was not sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the class was in Canvas (that’s what we used in school!) so I already knew my way around the platform.
The class opened up last week and I took a gander and what was inside the modules. The class has 11 multiple choice quizzes that you can retake up to three times. I am a fan of retakes, but you have to retake the entire quiz and not just the questions that you had incorrect. I am planning on giving feedback on this after the course has finished. There are lecture notes and power point slides for each chapter. Besides the quizzes, there are also Excel and TI calculator assignments, a mid-term and final exam. Old school are the two words that came to mind after reading the syllabus.
The assignments open and close on certain dates so you can only go ahead so far. This is not a self-paced course. Last week I read chapter one and completed the quiz. Many concepts were new to me and I had to retake the first quiz. Before the second attempt I took out the highlighter, reviewed the concepts online and found a few Desmos AP stats decks that were about the chapter. The second time was better but not by much. I decided to move on and not dwell on the need to chase a perfect score. As the class continued I took an additional quiz and performed better but still did not feel like I was was thriving in this “anytime” class. I am learning new concepts and feel like I grasp certain skills better than others. I think part of this is due to the format of the course and most classes that I have taken are more structured with some type of in-person requirement.
After reading through another chapter today I decided to reach out to coach at the college. The college offers help through Zoom. I clicked on a Zoom link and was paired up with a tutor to help talk through some of the problems. We discussed the skills that I had questions about and some of the concepts started to make more sense. In more than a few cases I had a conceptual understanding of what the problem was asking and was able to estimate correctly, but I was not using the the formulas correctly. Go figure. It is usually the other way around in the classroom! I felt much better after the session and things started to click much easier. It was time well spent.
After the Zoom session I started to think of a few takeaways that might be applicable for next school year:
1.) Sometimes you need to talk with others to grasp a concept. Digital resources are pretty awesome for learning new things, but some topics that are much better in-person. In this class you get zero feedback with passive digital resources. For the quizzes I received a correct or incorrect. I had to debate with myself whether it was worth it to retake the quiz not knowing what was incorrect the first time around. With a human you can receive feedback and take action based on the communication. What is your retake policy?
2.) It can be frustrating when you do not understanding something after reviewing it multiple times. I wonder how our students feel in this same situation and what feedback/re-teaching opportunities exist?
3.) What type of support is given to students that have questions outside of class time? This happened quite a bit during remote learning.
4.) How do we normalize the struggle that occurs when a student does not show that they understand a concept after multiple attempts. Please do not say growth mindset.
5.) How comfortable are students when asking for help?
6.) How do students know what to expect when it comes to assignments and quizzes? What formats are you using? Communicating the format and showing students an example can help ease anxiety.
I am learning new skills and am finding the small wins during this journey eye opening. It has been a while since I felt the struggle of trying to learn something new that is not in my wheelhouse. I am looking forward to the journey telling my students about the process next school year.