18.05 | Spring 2022 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Probability and Statistics

A Shift to Active Learning

Below, Dr. Jeremy Orloff and Dr. Jennifer French Kamrin describe why (and how) they revised 18.05 Introduction to Probability and Statistics to encourage active learning.

Our main goal in revising 18.05 was to convert from a lecture-based class to one using active learning. Active learning has been shown repeatedly to lead to better outcomes for students across demographic factors. In 18.05 the active learning involves multiple-choice concept questions, small table discussions, larger group discussions, and collaborative group problem solving supported by a large number of course staff. We modeled the course’s structure on the Physics Department’s TEAL (Technology-Enhanced Active Learning) format, which utilized the MITx platform to provide content, rapid feedback on understanding of that content, in-class concept questions, and a problem set checker.

In the first year, we placed equal emphasis on the technology (MITx, cameras, computers, and screens in the classroom) and the active learning. What we saw (and Prof. John Belcher, one of TEAL’s designers agreed) was that the technology was of secondary importance in student learning. Nonetheless, MITx plays a key role in helping students do the assigned reading and reading questions used to prepare for each class. Because of the ease of access and immediate feedback combined with a small number of points towards their final grade, we find a high percentage of students actually do this work.  It is convenient to continue the use of MITx for the in-class concept questions because it minimizes the number of educational tools being used, which minimizes confusion on where to find materials, and increases transparency. The result is that the in-class group problem solving and discussions are highly effective at solidifying students’ understanding of the material.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2022
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions
Activity Assignments with Examples
Exam Materials
Instructor Insights