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Why Johnny Can’t Apply: Using Cognitive Psychology to Redesign a Business Statistics Class Ronald Bruce Associate Professor Gwynedd Mercy University [email protected] Goals for Today • Discuss the concept of “Cognitive Apprenticeship.” • Describe the implications of cognitive apprenticeship for the business curriculum. • Describe the redesign of a business statistics course based on principles of Cognitive Apprenticeship Why Johnny Can’t Apply • Are you ever frustrated that students can’t seem to apply the domain knowledge that they have acquired to practical situations? Cognitive Apprenticeship • Collins, Brown, and Newman (1989) – Provided a general framework for designing learning environments based on constructivist principles. – Apply apprenticeship learning principles to cognitive domains. Characteristics of Apprenticeship Learning Environments • Content – Domain Knowledge • The stuff that we would like them to learn – Heuristic Strategies • Rules of thumb to help students apply skills • “If you are trying to determine which statistical technique to use, first identify the level of measurement of the independent and dependent variables.” – Control Strategies • Monitor and evaluate learning – Learning Strategies • “When learning statistics, it is best to attempt the problems, then check the solutions and identify where you made mistakes.” Teaching Methods • Modelling – Show students what to do – Model the thought processes that experts use. • Coaching – Provide feedback and guidance on students performance. • Scaffolding and fading – Provide more support initially, then gradually remove the support. • Articulation – Get students to articulate the processes that they are using to solve the problem. • Reflection – Have students reflect on the success of the processes that they used • Exploration – Encourage students to explore, try new things. Sequence • Increasing complexity – Simple to more complex tasks • Increasing diversity – Different types of contexts where skills are applied • Global before local skills – Show students where what they are learning falls into the big picture instead of focusing on small parts of the task Social aspects of learning • Situated Learning – Traditional view Step 2 Apply skill to a context. Situation1 Step 1 Learn Skill Skill, Knowledge Situation 2 Situation3 Situated Cognition “All learning occurs within a context” It is impossible to separate knowledge or skills from the context in which they are learned. If that context is how to perform on an exam, it is not surprising that students would have difficulty applying to authentic situations. Learning needs to take place in authentic, rich situations where application of the skill/knowledge is necessary to do some meaningful task. Skill Social Aspects of Learning • Culture of expert practice – Social aspects of learning – Storytelling – How to think like experts • Intrinsic motivation – Authentic tasks and contexts • Exploiting cooperation – Peers an additional source of scaffolding • Exploiting competition Rethinking the Business Statistics Course • Why do students take business statistics/quantitative methods as part of a business curriculum? Characteristics of Students • Students are in the fields of Accounting, Management, Marketing, Finance, Sports Management. • Students are below-average quantitatively. Why take statistics • So that students learn to provide support for decisions that business professionals must make. Situated Cognition • What decisions do managers in businesses need to make and support? – Management, Marketing, Finance etc. • Ensure that every example, exercise, project and assessment involves an authentic management-related situation. Situated Cognition example • Students are given a database of variables regarding homes that were recently sold in a region. • Students are placed in the role of a manager of a real estate firm. They are asked to write a report on the typical prices of homes in different towns represented in the database. • Skills demonstrated: mean and median, how to support a conclusion with data. Reflection/articulation on processes used. Topic Selection • Out – Harmonic mean, Geometric mean – Box and whisker plot • In – How to create compelling and effective charts and tables. – Evaluating probabilities – The Expected Value of a probability distribution. Text Selection • Declining quality • Increasing Cost • Developed my own text Evaluating Probabilities • “Jim walks into the casino and sits down at the blackjack table. He wins the first seven hands of blackjack that he plays. The manager asks you to write a report indicating the likelihood that Jim is cheating. (Assume that the probability of winning a hand of blackjack is .41.) Evaluating probabilities • A manager of a small business wants to sample her customers. She knows that 30% of her customers are men. A random sample of her customers results in just 6 men and 24 women. She is concerned that her sample must have been biased and that she should not rely on the results. Write a report for her on the likelihood that that her sample is unbiased. Computer Applications • SPSS? • Minitab? • Microsoft Excel? Class Survey • Students collect survey data from friends and family on satisfaction with cell phone provider. • Students collect, summarize and analyze data. • Students use this data throughout the semester. Statistical Cases • Cases involve a scenario and a data set. Students are required – Select an appropriate statistical analysis technique that will provide compelling support for the recommendation that they will make. – Communicate that recommendation in a persuasive way utilizing charts, tables, and text. Summary • Results – Eye opening – Using data to support recommendations is a skill that needs much development. References • Collins, A., Brown, J.S., & Newman, S.E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.) Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453-494). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. • Brown, Collins; Duguid (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1. (Jan. - Feb., 1989), pp. 3242.