Professors work to ease math anxiety
Who said, "Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater"?
While it might sound like something just about any math student would say, it was actually uttered by Albert Einstein. So, as you can see, a fear of math is somewhat universal. But a couple of Bellevue University professors work hard to try to ease some of that anxiety for students in their introductory statistics classes.
"I try to help them out in a number of ways. I relate my apprehension when I took my first statistics course in college (at 7:30 am!). I assure them that if they can add, subtract, multiply, and divide—they can do basic statistics," said Dr. Roxanne Sullivan, who teaches PY 250 Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences. "I also spend the first week talking about why we need statistics, and that I realize many of them will not be statisticians (and that is ok). I note that if nothing else, they will become better consumers of information that is provided to them via the media and will be able to make better decisions in their lives when faced with statistical information."
Sullivan does not have exams in her class, but rather offers online quizzes as a means of self-assessment (the quizzes can be taken multiple times if desired). Students turn in a portfolio of their work which consists of problem sets covering all the basic statistical techniques covered in the course.
Zergun Gonlubol, who teaches MA 240 Applied Statistics, tries to keep things very visual even in her online classes. She incorporates MyStatLab, a series of online courses that accompany the textbook, into her class.
"My reply is in a video format as if I am explaining in a classroom environment," she explained. "I also tutor my online students through Skype using a screen share feature that connects both of our computers so we can see our work. If they can see that they are not alone in cyberspace that relaxes them. I tell them, as long as they want it, they can do it."
Additionally, Gonlubol hopes to create a site that is open to the faculty solving several problems and explaining the importance of statistics within other disciplines such as Chemistry, Business, Sociology, and Health so that they can refer their students in case of need.
So relax! Statistics are a little less scary with a good guide.
"One of the biggest compliments that I can receive from a student is even though they still don't 'like' statistics, it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be and they learned something," said Sullivan.
MA 240 Applied Statistics will be available both online and in class during the spring term. The in-class offering will be held on Thursdays from 1-2:40 p.m. on the main Bellevue campus. PY 250 Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences is only offered in class. In the spring term, the class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on the main Bellevue campus with a lab on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m.
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