Day 139: Woes of Murky Multiple Choice Performance

After the 3rd quarter midterm in AP Statistics, it continues to be apparent that we need to practice multiple choice – and – multiple choice that is a mixture of lots of topics, not focused on the current one.  My students continue to struggle with doing multiple choice.  Is is due to not reading carefully?  Is it due to poor understanding of vocabulary?  Is it shaky grasp of essential concepts?  Is it a long term retention problem?  Probably all of the above and some other lurking reasons besides.20150417_164009

I also struggle with how to build in the spiraled review.  The AP Statistics curriculum is sooooo jam-packed with new and unfamiliar content for my students.  It requires time and thoughtfulness to develop and practice the new ideas.  So how do I also build in the time to review?!  At the end of every year I have good intentions of creating over the summer a series of warm-ups/openers/bell ringers that are 3-5 multiple choice questions on the old content.  Still hasn’t happened (I love my “off” time in the summer – catching up on all of the house work and family time that I don’t get to during the year).

Part of the challenge is getting a boat-load of good, solid multiple choice questions.  There just aren’t enough out there.  However, I decided that for the last month before the AP exam (and our final), I’d use practice test multiple choice questions, 3 at a time.  I have them on half sheets in a plastic container.  My statisticians pick up a copy as they walk into the room. Using the TI Nspire Navigator, I created question documents with keys already inserted.  As soon as my students login, they immediately receive the document.

So today, they had this particular question on probability.  I thought it was pretty straight forward:

There are six students enrolled in an evening class.  It has been estimated that, for any evening when the class meets, the probability of the number of students who attended is as shown below:

Number of Students 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Probability 0.05 0.15 0.16 0.18 0.22 0.16 0.08

Suppose that, on a particular evening, it is known that at least two students are attending.  What is the probability that, on that evening, at most four students are attending?

(A) 0.34                     (B) 0.43                 (C) 0.56                 (D) 0.70                  (E) 0.76

However, my students didn’t, as evidenced by the Navigator results.  What a great opportunity to talk about this questions and debrief the difficulty my student had with this question.  Comments like “I didn’t read carefully,” and “I didn’t notice the phrase ‘at least two student’,” and “oh, darn, I read ‘at least 2’ to be ‘at most 4’.”  One thing to note is that is was the last question and some students rushed to finish…time-management issues we’ll need to work on as well.


How do you get immediate feedback from student responses so you can act on their misconceptions right away?


Posted on April 15, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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