By the time we reach voting age, almost all Americans have at least a high school education. That means we have been exposed to numerous math courses, and hopefully passed them. But that does not mean we have a good sense of numbers. Innumeracy in the modern sense means that one does not have a good grasp of statistics and probability and how they impact one’s worldview. This article by FiveThirtyEight discusses a recent study of how little the blue and red teams know about each other, a prime example of how innumeracy is causing real problems in America.
It seems that a many intro statistics students struggle with the “language” of stats. I am working on a micro-course on that topic and I ran across this article: Statistics for people in a hurry. It is well worth the read the 8-minute read.
This NYT’s article is another showcasing their excellent use of data visualizations to communicate important concepts. Well worth the 7 minute read.
Where Boys Outperform Girls in Math: Rich, White and Suburban Districts
I’m sure most of us are familiar with Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken. I was reminded of the last two lines this morning by an article in Inc. on Jeff Bezos. It makes the point that most often in life we don’t regret the things we do. Rather, we regret the things we didn’t do.
When considering a major life decision, those of us who like numbers, can “quant” it to many decimal places.
But Bezos says that those life decisions are times when we should listen to our heart, perhaps more than to the logical reasons not to do something, though I think a bit of quant is good. The article suggests we should look for the greater meaning in those decisions such as “creating a better future for your family, wanting to make a difference, or hoping for a more rewarding and fulfilling life.”
Though we may not succeed all the time, we will be less likely to have the regret of not having tried at all.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Haden, J. (2018, Jan 8). Jeff Bezos: Ask Yourself 1 Question to Make Truly Important Decisions (and Avoid Lifelong Regrets). Retrieved from Inc.: https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/jeff-bezos-ask-yourself-1-question-to-make-truly-important-decisions-and-avoid-lifelong-regrets.html
Procrastination. I think we all suffer from this human problem. And we all probably have a sense that it rarely leads to optimum outcomes, though the ancient Greeks and Romans thought it was preferable to do things later after more reflection. (Partnoy, 2012)
Studies of the impact of procrastination on outcomes in online courses tell a different story. Waiting until the end of the window to complete quizzes and exams leads to lower grades. (Cerezo, Esteban, Sanchez-Santillan, & Nunex, 2017) (Levy & Ramin, 2012)
It is as simple as that.
Some of this is due to the “cramming” effect our teachers warned us about all through our schooling – not really having time to adsorb the exam material. Some is possibly due to just running out of time to complete the assignments – students kicked out of an exam at midnight on the due date. But waiting until late in the week to do the work will likely lower your grade.
One reason many students choose online education is the freedom to choose when and where to study. And work and family life does happen while in an online course, restricting our ability to study. But where you can, plan to work on assignments and quizzes/exams as early in the week as you can. It will pay off in higher grades.
Cerezo, R., Esteban, M., Sanchez-Santillan, M., & Nunex, J. (2017). Procrastinating Behavior in Computer-Based Learning Environments to Predict Performance: A Case Study in Moodle. Front. Psychol, 8: 1-11.
Levy, Y., & Ramin, M. (2012). Procrastination in Online Exams: What Data Analytics Can Tell Us. Proceedings of the Chais conference on instructional technologies research 2012: Learning in the technological era (pp. 41-49). The Open University of Israel.
Partnoy, f. (2012). Wait: The art and science of delay. New York: Public Affairs.
I may be a bit biased, but I believe our Excelsior quantitative courses are critical to our students. I found this article about an interview with Dr. Rebecca Goldin, Director of STATS and professor at George Mason University, about the importance of quantitative literacy:
You argue that statistical literacy gives citizens a kind of power. What do you mean?
What I mean is that if we don’t have the ability to process quantitative information, we can often make decisions that are more based on our beliefs and our fears than based on reality. On an individual level, if we have the ability to think quantitatively, we can make better decisions about our own health, about our own choices with regard to risk, about our own lifestyles. It’s very empowering to not be scared or bullied into doing things one way or another.
On a collective level, the impact of being educated in general is huge. Think about what democracy would be if most of us couldn’t read. We aspire to a literate society because it allows for public engagement, and I think this is also true for quantitative literacy. The more we can get people to understand how to view the world in a quantitative way, the more successful we can be at getting past biases and beliefs and prejudices. (Bleicher, 2017)