Friday, August 20, 2004

Life Is Just One Big Social Psychology Experiment And There Are No Confederates

FYI, only my colleagues and the statistically oriented out there will understand this entire post. You've been warned.

So I'm teaching this class in Rockville on multivariate statistics, and for the most part it's a normal group of students-- some are considerably less well-prepared for the material than I'd like, but eh, so what. They're still learning stuff that they can use.

Except I've got this one student... So many stories start out this way. "So I've got this one student, who keeps hollering MURF!in class" "So I've got this one student who keeps asking inappropriate questions and taking up a ton of class time" " So I've got this one student who doesn't even know what a standard error is..."

Well, I've got this one student who has got a really bad wedgie. She sits with her arms crossed in front of her, and when she is actually looking at me, she is scowling and (no kidding) rolling her eyes. But usually she isn't looking at me. Usually she is loudly flipping pages in her book, looking ahead at the next chapters or clicking around through the software documentation on her computer. AND, she is asking some pretty darn inappropriate questions.

HER:"So, this isn't the same as logistic regression"

ME:"No, it's not. It's discriminant function analysis"

H:"So, why isn't this the same as logistic regression?"

M:"Because that is a different model"

H:"So, are you saying that all logistic regression models are bad? They're not all bad, they're all great, and I take offense at you saying that they are all bad"

M:"No, I'm just teaching you a course on multivariate statistics, so you are learnng about discriminant function analysis. There is another class that teaches about logistic regression"

H:"Well, you should just teach logistic regression analysis."

M:"I'll be sure to pass along your opinion to the appropriate people in my department."


H:"OH, so you *reject* the hypothesis when the p-value is LESS THAN alpha? Why didn't you tell us that at the beginning?? It's not like we're expected to know all this statistical theory" (I really wish I was kidding here)


"Can we just save all the exercises until the end of the last day of the class so we can leave early?"

Oh, lordhavemercy, if you want to leave early just go.

So I have not killed her yet (go me!!), but I can also see that she is grating on the nerves of other students in the class. Lots of dirty looks coming from behind this student. Poison darts shooting across the room.

You've all heard of the Prisoner's Dilemma, right? Well, this is The Professor's Dilemma: on the one hand, she is a customer and thus deserves respect and to be treated as a professional. On the other hand, I am the instructor, and have a responsibility to ensure that the other students in the class are able to benefit from the course as much as possible. Even just considering my own self interests, if I berate her, she will be furious, probably complain loudly and I'll be berated by my supervisor. If I don't, other students might complain and I'll be berated by my supervisor. Truth is that she isn't really making it impossible to teach, she's just seriously rude and kind of dense.

Needless to say, I never have berated a student (not *really* berated). If you know me you'll know that I only *really* berate those that I love the most. I've got to respect you to holler at you. ;-)

On a happier note, had a great time with ChocolateCake and his family last night. Cute kid, and now I've filled my quota of Kid Exposure for the month and I don't need any more until at least October. And because it's good to learn something new each day, I did learn a few new songs, including a really good one about Dinosaurs. (*MarchingMarching...*) Hopefully SNG will be able to learn the song too in a couple of weeks when ChocolateCake and his family pass through Raleigh on their way back from vacation.

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