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Larry Lesser , Interim Director Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning PowerPoint Presentation
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Larry Lesser , Interim Director Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Larry Lesser , Interim Director Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

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Larry Lesser , Interim Director Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

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  1. 2014 Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education conferenceResearch, Rationale, and Resources for Leveraging Fun into Learning! Larry Lesser, Interim Director Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning The University of Texas at El Paso joint work with D. K. Pearl (Pennsylvania State University), J. Weber (Georgia Perimeter College), & R. Reyes (UTEP) Supported in part by Project UPLIFT: Universal Portability of Learning Increased by Fun Teaching NSF/EHR/DUE-1140690 (UTEP), 1141261 (OSU), 1140592 (GPC)

  2. come to the 12th International Sun Conference on Teaching and Learning!(proposal deadline: Dec. 5) Also, we’re hiring! see:

  3. Outline • Quick overview of types & sources of fun • Experiencing/critiquing examples of fun-enhanced content • Creative ways to research this “subjective area” on students, and on faculty • Best practices for helping faculty try using fun with minimal risk • Diversity connections • Future directions, Q&A

  4. Types of Fun Itemsadapted from Lesser & Pearl (2008), Lesser et al. (2013)suggestions of others?

  5. SERIOUS potential benefits (Lesser et al. 2013, citing Berk & Nanda, 1998, 2006; Garner, 2006; Neumann, Hood & Neumann, 2009) “experimental studies of the pedagogical impacts of humor have shown significant positive outcomes in student ratings of the lesson, student ratings of the instructor, student anxiety, student attitudes towards statistics, and student recall and retention of information”

  6. why statistics is a good vehicle to illustrate this research • Statistics is offered in several departments and taken by students in many disciplines • Statistics anxiety occurs across disciplines (e.g., in the humanities, social sciences, and in classes for pre-service elementary school teachers), and anxiety-reduction is one potential benefit of the use of fun items

  7. canonical example of a “dread course”

  8. invited chapter on overcoming statistics anxiety in book published this summer by Rowman & Littlefield

  9. Example Sources of Fun Items in statistics….and beyond!

  10. (since 1996)

  11. free online stats games

  12. 500+ items; part of NSF’s NSDL system


  14. in other niches: • NURSING/MEDICINE: Journal of Nursing Jocularity; Humor & Health Journal; Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humor • SCIENCE: J. of Irreproducible Results; Annals of Improbable Research • GRADUATE STUDENTS: • Others????

  15. more general resources on humor • Journals: Humor: International J. of Humor Research; The European J. of Humor Research; The Israeli J. of Humor Research • Organizations/Conferences: Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor International Society for Humor Studies The Humor Project

  16. Open invitation Interested in building a network of interested practitioners/researchers? Or at least in relaying ideas/resources for a webpage with (lists of or links to) general and discipline-specific collections, resources, papers, etc.? email me:

  17. considerations for course use of fun Lesser and Pearl (2008) • Course goal/concept associated with item • Where used (e.g., in class, on website) • What to do/say/ask before using the fun item to “set it up” • What to do/say/ask after using item

  18. some of my “Media Clips” examples (in Mathematics Teacher)

  19. Research Challenges • controlled conditions in a live classroom • replicable treatment without instructor effect • needing special skill/talent SOLUTION: • Insert fun item into context that can be otherwise electronically duplicated (e.g., Garner, 2006; Özdoğru& McMorris, 2013)

  20. 2 examples • Garner (2006):  N = 117 undergraduates review three 40-minute lecture videos (in "distance education format") on statistics research methods with or without humor(joke) inserts. Students randomized to the insert group recalled significantly more information and gave significantly higher ratings (each p < .001) in their opinion of the lesson, how well the lesson communicated information, and quality of the instructor.  • Özdoğru & McMorris (2013): N = 156 college students randomized to one of two forms with six 1-page textbook-style presentations; one form had cartoon insert in concepts #1,2,6 and the other in 3,4,5. Students reported favorable (p <.001) attitudes for cartoon inserts, but there was no effect on learning of concepts.

  21. (urban) settings of Project UPLIFT’s student-randomized experiment

  22. student-randomized experiment (fall 2013)(53 from comm. college; 194 from medium-sized university) • All students asked to take pre (and post)tests: SATS (Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics), SAM (Statistics Anxiety Measure) • Half of the students randomized to have “fun inserts” in content readings accessed via LMS • All students take midterms/finals with embedded multiple-choice items related to the (12-14) content readings, such as:

  23. LMS screenshot (Desire2Learn) of a mini-reading with fun item insert (half the students were randomized to receive the same reading without the insert)

  24. QUESTION: Which of these modalities of fun would be most effective in increasing learning? • Cartoons • Poems • Quotes • Songs

  25. % Correct with and without Song Inserts

  26. QUESTION:Why do you think songs showed more effectiveness? • Time with material • Songs more engaging/active • More impact on memory • Other

  27. Why did some fun items appear more effective than others? Spearman’s Rank Correlation of “Effectiveness” with “Activeness” from two independent raters: 0.61 and 0.66

  28. QUESTION: What dimension of the Statistics Anxiety Measure(SAM) should be affected most by fun? A. Anxiety • Attitude Towards Class • Fearful Behavior • Attitude Towards Math • Performance

  29. Post Course avg ± seSAM and Subscale Results (lower is better)

  30. QUESTION: Which dimension of the Student Attitudes Toward Statistics(SATS) should be affected most by fun? • Affect • Cognitive • Value • Difficulty • Interest

  31. Post Course avg ± seSATS Subscale Results (higher is better)

  32. Qualitative Data (beyond scope of this 35-minute session) • Spring 2013 case study: Extreme case sampling (fun-experienced instructor) at medium-sized university, using multiple data sources: field notes or transcripts from 5 observations; six 1-on-1 student interviews; end-of-course ratings and narrative comments from 21 students • Fall 2013 data: eight 1-on-1 student interviews from two-year college

  33. Methods • Survey (informed by literature on hesitations and motivations, as well as on completion inducements) at 2011 USCOTS, where 249 (66%) of 380 attendees participated • Post-USCOTS interviews needed to help contextualize and interpret survey data, especially given difficulties in defining fun

  34. Lesser et al. (2013): (statistics) instructor motivations and hesitations * to understand better the current usage of fun in statistics education, including reasons why some instructors use or do not use modalities of fun in their courses * to examine if instructor’s gender, typical class size, institution type, and years of experience relate to motivations and/or hesitations for using fun in statistics teaching * to assess awareness of resources for finding statistics fun items

  35. SURVEY249 (66%) of 380 attendees participated at USCOTS 2011 Survey from the CAUSE Study of Fun Cluster Group Please respond to this anonymous survey as you reflect on the last time you taught an introductory statistics course. Put the completed survey in the box located on the registration table (on Thursday) or at USCOTS Central by 4:30 pm on Friday to receive a “Study of Fun” notepad. When you return your survey, you can also drop your raffle ticket in the bowl for a chance to win a Nook Color e-Reader. Stop by our table at the Posters and Beyond session on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and you can see the aggregate survey results and demonstrations of Statistics Fun! BACKGROUND INFORMATION (fill in the blank or check your responses) # of years teaching statistics ____ typical class size ____ Gender: □ Male □ Female Institution: □ high school □ 2-yr college  □ 4-yr college  □ research institution  □ other USAGE Check each modality of fun that you have used in your statistics teaching: □ Poems/Songs  □ Cartoons  □ Games □ Jokes/Humor  □ Other:_____________ Check each modality of fun that you have NOT used, but are open to using  □ Poems/Songs  □ Cartoons  □ Games □ Jokes/Humor  □ Other:_____________ Check each modality of fun that you are not open to using:  □ Poems/Songs  □ Cartoons  □ Games □ Jokes/Humor  □ Other:_____________ MOTIVATIONS Which of the following are your main motivations for using (or considering the use of) fun in your statistics teaching? (check all that apply) □ increases student learning/retention □ reduces student anxiety □ helps my popularity/ratings with students □ builds classroom community □ makes teaching more enjoyable for me □ increases student engagement □ other (please specify):_______________________ HESITATIONS Which of the following are your main hesitations about using fun in your statistics teaching? (check all that apply) □ no skills/talent □ can’t quickly find good examples □ weak evidence of helping student learning □ uses too much class time □ need to be perceived as serious by students □ size of class □ need to be perceived as serious by colleagues/supervisor □ incompatibility with students’ cultures □ other(please specify):________________________ CAUSEWEB.ORG Have you used items from the “fun” resources collection at □ many times □ a few times □ once or twice □ no, but I’ve browsed □ no, and I haven’t browsed □ no, and I didn’t know about this collection I am open to being interviewed by phone about this topic □ no □ yes (print e-mail)______________ THANK YOU!

  36. 249 (66% of 380) USCOTS ‘11 attendees responded

  37. Openness to using fun (N= 249 statistics instructors)

  38. Motivations for using fun(N = 249 statistics instructors)

  39. Hesitationsfor using fun(N = 249 statistics instructors) ?

  40. Diversity connections to fun • Fun affected by specific diversities of instructor and campus population • Involves out-of-the-box alternative/diverse perspectives • Ethical/respectful fun builds community by transcending labels that unduly separate us • Avoid harmful stereotypes (e.g., my April 2014 Mathematics Teacher op-ed, inspired by a 2013 POD session on stereotype threat and……

  41. jokes from • “An attractive female accountant…” • “…A young nursing student in the front row sheepishly raised her hand and asked, “But sir, why do nurses have to take statistics?” “Young lady, statistics saves lives!...Statistics keeps idiots out of the nursing profession!”

  42. Educational Development • Low risk - high risk continuum (Berk) between and within modality types • Ziv suggests 3-4 times per class period • Recommendations for student-generated fun (vs. instructor-generated) • Network of practitioners to pool ideas? • Streamlined framework/model for fun/humor • Let’s see some examples from teaching center websites….

  43. from Plattsburgh SUNY’s CTE

  44. from Michigan State Univ.:

  45. Key References MY “JOKES AND STEREOTYPE THREAT” OP-ED: April 2014 Mathematics Teacher, pp. 568-71. RESEARCH ON HUMOR/FUN IN STATISTICS: collection of 500+ items: Lesser, Pearl, Reyes, Weber (2014). Lesser, Wall, Carver, Pearl, Martin, Kuiper, Posner, Erickson, Liao, Albert, Weber (2013). Using fun in the statistics classroom: An exploratory study of college instructors’ hesitations and motivations. Journal of Statistics Education, 21(1), 1-33. (also, see Lesser & Pearl (2008). Functional fun in statistics teaching: Resources, research, and recommendations. Journal of Statistics Education, 16(3), 1-11. RESEARCH ON HUMOR IN EDUCATION: Banas, J. A., Dunbar, N., Rodriguez, D., & Liu, S.-J. (2011), “A Review of Humor in Educational Settings: Four Decades of Research,” Communication Education, 60(1), 115-144. AN INSPIRATION FOR THE EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Garner, R. L. (2006). Humor in pedagogy: How ha-ha can lead to aha! College Teaching, 54(1), 177-180. INSTRUMENTS (SAM and SATS): Earp, M.A. (2007). Development and validation of the Statistics Anxiety Measure. University of Denver. Schau, C., Stevens, J., Dauphinee, T. L., & Del Vecchio, A. (1995). The development and validation of the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55(5), 868-875.

  46. thank you for attendingResearch, Rationale, and Resources for Leveraging Fun into Learning! Larry Lesser, Interim Director Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning The University of Texas at El Paso

  47. item-randomized experiment (spring 2014)(≈ 1000 from larger university) • Students take pre- and post- SATS; SAM; and START(Statistical Thinking and Reasoning Test) • Students see 8 content items with each item randomized to include fun insert or not • All students take midterm (3 items) and final (5 items) with embedded multiple-choice items related to the content readings

  48. Project UPLIFT: three urban settings