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Have you been in situations where your students lack knowledge on how to present and analyze data but your course contents are so packed that there’s no extra time to teach or elaborate further on how to use statistical tools? Yet, data analysis skills should not be overlooked, as it plays an important role across many disciplines.

The case of SCNC1111
The Science Foundation Course SCNC1111 Scientific Method and Reasoning encountered this situation. As part of their group project, the students of SCNC1111 have to make their own investigations into how Mathematics and Statistics can be or have been applied to daily life and scientific inquiry. Over the past years, the teaching team observed that while most students were good at data collection, some of them seemed to be at a loss on what to do with the data: What can the data help us to do?

Seeing that some students lack proper training in handling, interpreting or analyzing data, the SCNC1111 teaching team found it essential to fill the gap:

“As there is not enough time to cover all these in class time, [we] took the initiative to produce videos to introduce data analysis in a convenient and low-cost way. The animations in the videos can help to vividly illustrate the concerned points, and the University can keep a database of resources for students to use at their convenience.” – Dr. Eddy Lam, Dr. Rachel Lui and Dr. William Cheung, SCNC1111 Course instructors

As a result, several useful and efficient instructional videos have been developed on how to use free online resources to plot nice graphs and do basic statistical analysis. Students’ skills and learning experience can both be enhanced. With the hope to incorporate students into the process of teaching, the SCNC1111 teaching team has previously recruited senior undergraduates as Senior Tutors for the course and one of the Senior Tutors, Mr. Dag Wong, was in charge of the video production. The team believes that “students can be our resourceful partner in developing high quality teaching materials and videos.”

Interdisciplinary resource-sharing
These videos can prove to be useful not only in science, but also in different disciplines such as economics, psychology, engineering, sociology, to name a few. In the long run, such productions can initiate synergy among different faculties in developing and sharing educational resources in common areas of inquiry. As students are expected to learn a wide spectrum of skills, creation and utilization of interdisciplinary materials will be highly beneficial.

Here are some typical data analysis questions asked by students across the campus, to which the SCNC1111 team has responded through the videos. Please feel free to share these links with your students!

What if I have an equation and I simply want to plot a nice-looking graph?

What if I have gathered some data and I wonder if there is any relationship between them?

How does regression work?

How does linear regression work with excel?

Let this be a start to knowledge sharing across disciplines!
Contact us if you are interested to learn more.

You learn best when you teach another. That’s why the teaching team of SCNC 1111 Scientific Method and Reasoning, which comprises Dr. Eddy Lam, Dr. Rachel Lui, Dr. William Cheung, implemented the Senior Tutor Scheme to encourage and facilitate undergraduate students in sharing their study experience. This scheme is a teaching innovation, applicable to all disciplines.

In the past semester, nine active students were chosen as senior tutors. They were in Year 3 or 4 with rich academic and cultural exchange experiences. The fact that the tutors come from different disciplines in Science also broadens and adds new perspectives to mathematics and statistics teaching.

The tutors contributed in all stages – from designing, preparing and conducting the tutorials, to marking and commenting on assignments. They did not come unprepared, weekly meetings were held by the teaching team as a training to ensure tutors had sufficient knowledge of pedagogy and class management. The teaching team oversaw each tutorial and provided assistance when necessary. Trainings on Moodle, the usage of Google forms and centralized email systems also facilitated smoother implementation.

The scheme’s implementation in the past semester was undoubtedly a win-win case for everyone.

banner Senior Tutor teaching in a tutorial

For tutors

  • Tutors had a chance to review the basics of their learning – ‘to gain insights from studying the past’ 溫故知新.
  • Teaching the concepts through their own way or method in front of the first-year student groups trained their presentation skills and public speaking skills.
  • Preparing for tutorials and engaging students during tutorials provided field experience, improving tutors’ management and organizational skills.

Both students and tutors had mutual learning. Tutors learnt through students’ responses and comments.

banner Samantha Wu, one of the tutors, commented: “Wrong answers could too inspire other students to think, and they sometimes lead the class discussion into a newer perspective of Science.”

For students

  • The scheme enabled a decrease in student-to-teacher ratio, giving each student more attention and timely feedback.
  • The tutors being only several years older also meant they can be a role model, a peer and an adviser at the same time. Being on a similar academic level, tutors could encourage first-year students to speak up in class, while they may be hesitant in front of professors/teachers. At the same time, having taken this course, the tutors can also offer advice and peer support.

banner The senior tutors interacting with students during tutorials
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Team support is often needed in large-scale flipped classes. Perhaps enlisting the assistance from Senior Tutors would be one way to go. Please contact us if you have more ideas to share about making a greater impact in our teaching and learning through innovation.

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