“Questions and Answers” to improve critical thinking in statistics

The aim of the project was to encourage students to think critically about the application of probability theory.  Students are required to ask questions about the content in the form of applied problems, for their fellow students to answer and rate inside a serious game. To achieve this students they have to be familiar with the content. They will, in essence, be creating their own pedagogy and assessments. The Reading Game was also used in STAT273 (Introduction to Probability) to improve student engagement. The game was formulated to allow for the simultaneous existence of two dynamics. The first derives from the standard way the game is usually played.  Students play against each other, accumulating points, stars and karma. The second dynamic of the game has the goals to develop a sense of community among the students and to raise the quality of the questions. In this case, the convener evaluated students' contribution to the question database as a whole and sourced the mid-semester test questions from the Reading Game, depending on its quality (with at most minor modifications for interference).

Outcomes

29 out of a total of 35 students logged into the game, with 178 questions asked and 4777 responses by the end of the semester. This is an excellent result from a class that historically has very low engagement. The quality of the questions was assessed by both the students inside the game and by the convener who played the meta-game with the class. The game raised consistently the standard of the questions. The majority of the students participated in the game, with a few being strong players. Even more interestingly, the marks in the tests have been formally analysed in relation to the activity in the game. It can be concluded that the marks are more strongly (and positively) associated with the participation than with the achievements in the game, showing that all the students, not only the strongest, have benefited from the introduction of the Reading Game into STAT273.

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