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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: February 18, 2000
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Writer's Block and Interpretation

Visit Writer's Block, a site chosen by children. Click on View Messages to see examples. Notice that the site uses "eye candy," simply, by allowing each child to choose the eye candy for his or her story, and allowing them to choose the ink color. Notice that there is not an actual model story given. The message box is empty. No prompts.

See the technique of using modelling to get children to learn to express themselves confidently. (See jeanne revert to third grade teaching vocabulary: "See Dick run.") Find a child you can help to take part in this game. Notice how much pleasure seeing what they have written brings to them. Notice how much confidence modelling, and guiding can give. Watch them grow, if you're lucky enough to be around them often.

But also notice that some children have writer's block. Giving their name gives them a specific task we are pretty sure they can do. Choosing the eye candy gives them a specific task that will encourage them. We can all pick one of the eye candy images.

The very next task, though, can leave them floundering. Tell us your story, or what your movie would be about, or what your book would be about. And if you've never thought of writing a story, that's not an intuitive leap.

Can you imagine some prompts that could be put in the message box to help the child who is dismayed at taking that first step? What about:

How does this technique of teaching relate to our technique of "plagiarizing" interpretations? Consider that modelling permits you to change just a few elements at once, relying on the model to provide support and keep you from going too far astray. Many teachers prefer positive modelling to correcting errors, for we fear it may be the errors which are remembered, too many examples of errors in your head. It's also rather a non-violent way of teaching to pre-empt the mistakes before they can happen.

Can you imagine a way to use this kind of teaching technique for statistical interpretation?

Table 1: Perceptions of How One Gets Ahead

OPINION OF HOW PEOPLE GET AHEAD
. . . . . . Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative
Percent
Valid Hard Work 689 45.9 70.6 70.6
. . . Both Equally 165 11.0 16.9 87.5
. . . Luck or Help 116 7.7 11.9 99.4
. . . 9 6 0.4 0.6 100.0
. . . Total 976 65.1 100.0 . . .
Missing NAP 513 34.2 . . . . . .
. . . DK 11 0.7 . . . . . .
. . . Total 524 34.9 . . . . . .
Total . . . 1500 100.0 . . . . . .

You can get this table by choosing Analyze->Descriptive Statistics->Frequencies. Choose the variable, Opinion of How to Get Ahead. Click OK, and wait patiently. The output screen will give you the above table.

Now look at Table 2, which is on p. 85 of DLBH.

Table 2: Respondents' Religious Preference

Respondents' Religious Preference
. . . . . . Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative
Percent
Valid Protestant 812 54.1 54.2 54.2
. . . Catholic 393 26.2 26.3 80.5
. . . Jewish 46 3.1 3.1 83.6
. . . None 179 11.9 12.0 95.5
. . . Other 67 4.5 4.5 100.0
. . . Total 1497 99.8 100.0 . . .
Missing DK 1 .1 . . . . . .
. . . NA 2 0.1 . . . . . .
. . . Total 3 0.2 . . . . . .
Total . . . 1500 100.0 . . . . . .

Suppose that you have this interpretation for the Table 2.

Table 2 shows that 54.2 % (812) respondents in our sample identified their religious preference as Protestant. 26.3% (393) respondents identify their religious preference as Catholic, and 3.1% (46) respondents as Jewish. Although 80.5% of the sample identifies with a Christian religious preference, a startling 12.0% (179) of respondents identify no religious preference. This is impressive, given the heavy emphasis of the religious right on a return to family values, which traditionally includes identification with a formal religious group. There is no corresponding media campaign against formal religious identification, so that it is surprising that such a relatively large percentage of respondents perceives no such identification.

Would that help you to write an interpretation of Table 1 on Perceptions of How One Gets Ahead?