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ERIC Number: EJ1018117
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
Bundled-Up Babies & Dangerous Ice Cream: Correlation Puzzlers
Offenholley, Kathleen H.
Mathematics Teacher, v106 n6 p418-422 Feb 2013
The Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) in New York City is fourth among all community colleges in awarding degrees to minority students and in awarding degrees to African Americans. The BMCC student body is approximately 37 percent Hispanic, 33 percent black, 15 percent white, and 15 percent Asian. In addition, a significant proportion of their students come from other countries or are first-generation Americans for whom English is their second language. BMCC's students also reflect a wide range of ages; many have returned to school after caring for children or working outside the home (BMCC 2010). BMCC's diversity makes teaching introductory statistics an exciting opportunity to share insights across cultures and ages. In this article, BMCC professor Kathleen Offenholley, describes how students can have fun with correlation puzzlers in which a lurking variable is the cause. Students become detectives, trying to find the answers to the puzzlers. In this way, they improve their ability to analyze statistical studies and deconstruct the information in advertisements. Sullivan (2010) defines a lurking variable as "an explanatory variable that was not considered in a study but that affects the value of the response variable in the study" (p. 17). To help students understand the idea of lurking variables, Offenholley asks them, in groups, to find the lurking variable for at least one of five puzzlers she gives them. By having five problems to choose from, students feel less pressure and usually come up with answers to at least two, often three, of the five puzzlers. Through these puzzlers, she draws on both statistical and educational theory to develop a process in which students become their own agents of statistical inquiry in a manner that encourages even the most reticent, across all cultures and ages, in her classroom. A description of each puzzler and the students' reactions is presented herein. A bibliography is included.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Journal Articles
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A