College Math Teaching

October 23, 2014


Filed under: academia, linear regression — Tags: , , — blueollie @ 6:17 pm

I am teaching two first semester calculus classes and one numerical analysis class. I doubt that I’ll ask for 2 preparations ever again; I’ll get into those reasons later.

I gave a take home test; they had 10 days to do it. I decided to ask an easy warm up question to give them some confidence:

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 1.05.28 PM

Yes, I covered “linear regression” in class and assigned a homework problem. Data: each student was assigned ONE of these data sets. I didn’t tell them where these came from, but these were the human population of: the earth or China or India or the US (in billions or millions respectively).

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 1.07.50 PM

And much to my disgust: 2 of the students didn’t do this problem at all, and one who did GOT A NEGATIVE SLOPE for the “best fit line”. He duly plotted the negatively sloped line with the data….

And to think that this student is a graduate student in engineering! Unbelievable. Remember: this was a TAKE HOME test.

Moral: even students that you think are “advanced” have to be TOLD to do a “does this make sense” analysis ofter they obtained a result.

Evidently, this problem is not an isolated one.

And it is unlikely to get better. The article I linked to talks about “punching the button”. Well, they won’t even have to do that.


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