Monday, September 30, 2013

Lesson Plan: The Hunger Games t-test review

Hey, nerds-

Here is a PPT that I use to review t-tests with my students. All of the examples are rooted in The Hunger Games. My students get a kick out of it and this particular presentation (along with my Harry Potter themed ANOVA review) is oft-cited as an answer to the question "What did you like the most about this class?" in my end of the semester reviews.

Essentially, I have found various psychological scales, applied them to THG, and present my students with "data" from the characters. For example, the students perform a one-sample t-test comparing Machvellianism in Capital leadership versus Rebellion leadership (in keeping with the final book of the series, the difference between the two groups is non-significant). So, as a psychologist, I can introduce my students to various psychological concepts in addition to review t-tests. Note: I teach in a computer lab using SPSS, which would be a necessity for using exercises.

Caveat: I would recommend using this only if you are familiar with and love The Hunger Games trilogy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Northwestern Mutual's "The Longevity Game"

I guess "The Longevity Game" sounds better than The Death Calculator. Which is what Northwestern Mutual has created and shared with us. Essentially, you answer questions about yourself (weight, exercise, stress management, driving habits, drug and alcohol habits, etc.) and the Game will give you an estimation for how long you should live based on the data you provide.

The Longevity Game, from Northwestern Mutual

I use this in class to demonstrate how data and statistics influence certain aspects of our lives (like whether or not an insurer is willing to provide us with insurance coverage). This can also be used to introduce multiple regression, since multiple factors are taken into account when predicting the outcome measure of life expectancy.

I also make sure to emphasize to my students that this calculator was created by an insurance company that was founded in 1857 and that this calculator isn't just some random interwebz quiz.

Warning: I wouldn't ask students to discuss their personal life expectancy (as it deals with their weight, ability to handle stress, alcohol and drug abuse, and other personal things) but I do think it is safe to ask them about which measured variable were surprising (seat belt usage is usually one that is surprising).

Monday, September 9, 2013

r/skeptic's "I was practicing GraphPad and I think I may have discovered the 'real' cause of autism..."

NOTE: I'm not entirely certain about the origin of this graph, so I apologize if my citation isn't correct. The earliest version I could find was on imgur from user r/skeptic (yes, associated with the Skeptic subreddit).


I think the illustration above  is a good way of a) demonstrating that correlation does not equal causation and b) sticking it to anti-vaxers who use a lot of correlational data (see below) to back up their theories about why rates of Autism have been increasing.


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Colbert Report's "Texas Gun Training Bill & Free Shotgun Experiment"

The Colbert Report's take on Kyle Copland's research studying whether or not gun ownership lowers crimes. Copland's method? Handing out free .22s in high crime areas (to folks that pass a background check and take a gun safety course).


This applies more to a research methods class (Colbert expresses a need for a control group in Copland's research. His suggestion? Sugar guns as well as a second experimental condition in which EVERYONE is given a gun). However, I imagine that you could show your students this video and pause it before they introduce the research project and ask your students how we could finally answer this question of whether or not gun ownership lowers crimes.

Thanks to Chelsea for pointing this out!