Thoughts on Teaching Week 2 tutorial

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Thoughts on Sect. 2.3

Remind students that there is a Glossary in the textbook!

Thoughts on Sect. 2.4

For newspaper articles, remember that the reporting may not be very good, even though the research itself may be good. Sometimes we need to assume answers or just state that we don't know.

Thoughts on Sect. 2.5

The purpose of this question is to get students thinking about study design for Assessment TaskĀ 2A. It is very important!

In online classes, you may just need to talk about the issues, rather than do the study.

There are many correct ways to do this activity. However, for many reasons, we suggest following the suggestions here in the end (though having students suggest other ideas first is a great idea too).

You could show the Project Proposal form on the overhead screen, and get the students to work through it one page at a time.

I know it is easier to measure reaction time using an app or website on a smartphone... but I strongly suggest not doing so. The purpose of this activity is not getting the reaction times, but to think about planning a study. Using the ruler drop as the activity allows a lot of opportunites to talk about many of the issues in study design and data collectionm which is the purpose of this activty.

Resources: Rulers.

We plan a study that we will continue next week (i.e., collect the data). The whole class will do the same study, and contribute data.

We will compare the 'average ruler reaction time' for students after using their dominant and non-dominant hands. Being a little vague at this stage:

  • Population: Could be SCI110 students, UniSC students, ...
  • Outcome: The average amount that the dominant hand is faster than the non-dominant hand
  • C: None.
  • Intervention: None.

Seeing that there is no C is important! This is a relational RQ, with a within-individuals comparison (there are not two subsets being compared).

As a result, a TaskĀ 2 project like this is not permitted.

Some points:

  • To begin, state that we will compare left-hand reaction 'time' to right-hand reaction 'time'. This is not the best idea, as some people and left-handed and some are right-handed, and it is better is to compare dominant and non-dominant hands. But start like this, and lead a discussion that encourages students to come to this realisation.
  • Initially tell them what you want in very general terms ("we'll measure the reaction time in left and right hands"), and tell them to Go! They'll probably all start measuring without any planning. So let them go for one or two minutes, then pull them up and start ranting and raving: "What about the planning process that we've been learning about!?" Even observe and then tell the student how different groups were doing things differently to make your point.
  • Then have the students discuss planning as a class. Form a class consensus on how to proceed, and keep a record of what the class decides. You will actually collect this data, either this week or next weeks (probably more likely), so also be practical!
  • You may like to prepare a Word document with this info (during class time; ask a student to be the scribe), then over the following weeks as we compile more about the study (e.g., numerical and graphical summaries) add to this Word document.
  • Things to decide upon (some are arbitrary; some will have better answers than others):
    • How do we decide which hand goes first?
    • How will we determine the dominant hand? (Perhaps easiest: hand we write with.)
    • What if someone is ambidexterous, or only has one arm? (Use exclusion criteria!)
    • How will be grab the ruler? Anyway we like, or with index finger and thumb?
    • How do we measure the reaction time on the ruler? What is grabbing finger/thumb is not horizontal exactly? Top of thumb?
    • Where will we start the ruler relative to fingers?
    • When will we release the ruler? After (say) \(3\) seconds? After a random time?
    • Will catchers be sitting or standing?
    • What of the catcher drops their hand while catching? (Maybe arm should rest on a table?)
    • How far apart should fingers be?
    • Just one catch per hand, or more? If more, what (single) number to report: the slowest? fastest? median? mean?
    • What if the catchers fails to catch the ruler: have another go? or just their bad luck, and they miss a measurement?
    • Can we manage Hawthorne (no), observer effect (ask which hand is dominant after collecting data), etc.
  • For example, we may decide to toss a coin to start (Heads: start with left; Tails: start with right), then alternate to have three tries each hand. Report the median for each hand. After the toss, ask which hand is dominant.


  • The unit of analysis is the person, and each person gets two units of observation. Remember: jamovi and SPSS like data arranged with one unit of analysis (i.e. person in this case) per row.
  • If you have time, you can collect the data in class. But this activity often takes me about an hour, so we collect data next week.
Save the protocol!

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