This experiment is a study of factors that affect how much people learn in a class.
You will be asked to imagine many different classes, based on the instructor's personality, the level of the content of the class, and the standards that the instructor uses for grading. Your task is to imagine taking such a class, and to predict how well students in that class will do on a national, standardized test of the material covered in the course. Imagine that this course fulfils a G.E. (General Education) requirement, and is taken mostly by students who are not in that major. The national exam has been developed to evaluate how well universities are teaching the material.
The test is a national exam with 100 points possible; averaged over many different classes at many different universities, the exam has a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 15. 68% of all students have scores between 35 and 65, and 95% of all test scores fall between 20 and 80. It has been found that students at better universities score higher on average on the test, and within a university, students who take certain professors do better than those who take the same class with different professors. The professors do not have access to the exam before the test is given, which will be given to students one year after they finish the class. This test score will not be part of a student's record, but the average scores (averaged over students) will be used by accreditation boards.
Your task is to predict the average score by students, according to which section of the class they took. Here are descriptions of how the courses differ.
Different people have different personalities. Here are three particular individuals, who have different personality and individual characteristics:
Grumpy: This instructor is an unattractive male, 62 years old, wears an old suit to class and is gruff in his mannerisms. He does not speak loudly, but he can be heard if one sits close enough. He has a slight disability, due to a previous stroke that causes him to stutter slightly and he has a tremor in his right hand that is sometimes distracting. He has an old-fashioned, formal manner, and is not easy for students to approach. When students request exceptions to class policy, he is polite but rigidly refuses to bend any class policies. He seems grumpy because he never smiles in class.
Informal: This instructor is of average attractiveness; he is a 48 year old male who wears casual clothes. He jokes in class and is easy for students to approach, but he also seems something of a Nerd--maybe his jokes are funny to people who have read the same books he has. He is informal in his manners, but he is still somewhat boring when he begins to talk about the material of the class. His voice is not pleasant, but he can be heard.
Attractive: This instructor is an attractive, 36 year old female, who wears very fashionable clothes. She has a pleasant voice and personality. She has obviously come from a wealthy background, and she is acquainted with people who are rich and famous. Her style and manners are much like those of a television talk show host. People like to watch her and listen to her in the class and people seem to like her for her style and warm personality.
CONTENT refers to the amount of material that is included in the course. Some instructors present more content than others.
Light: This course covers only the most basic introduction to the topic. Only a few terms and easy ideas are covered. There is not much reading to do (less than 100 pages), because there is not that much material to learn outside of class.
Medium: This course requires some memorization and reading of the book. Some study required to master the material. There are about 300 pages of medium level reading to do for the course.
Heavy: This course covers difficult topics that require a mental struggle to understand. Practice, problem solving, or homework sets are required in order to understand the material. This course has a lot of material covered, and there are over 800 pages of reading for the course and homework assignments are due every week. Even with the homework sets, it is difficult to learn everything in the course without spending 4-5 hours per week outside of class on study. It will take a lot of work to learn all of this material.
STANDARDS for grading refers to the level of performance required by a student to achieve a certain grade in the class. Some instructors require that students achieve a high level of understanding of the material to achieve a passing grade, and others give grades more generously. The levels of Standards are as follows:
Easy: This instructor gives most students As and Bs, even those who are struggling with the material or who have not been diligent in attendance and study. Only the most clueless student will get a C in this class. If a person has half a brain and attends some of the time, they will pass with an A or B.
Medium-Easy: This instructor gives mostly As and Bs, a few Cs, and an occasional D or F. The student needs to read at least part of the book or attend part of the class to get an A or B, but some students seem to get Bs without cracking a book.
Medium-Hard: This instructor gives about 30% As and Bs, 50% of the students get Cs, and about 20% of the students get Ds or Fs. To get an A or B, the student needs to attend most of the classes, read most of the reading, and do the homework assignments. Because the students need to know the concepts, it will take work to really learn the material.
Very Hard: This instructor only gives As to students who are truly outstanding in their understanding of the material. Only about 7% of the class get As, 13% get Bs, 40% of the class gets Cs, 25% get Ds, and 15% Fail. A student can do all the reading and attend the class and still get a C or D because the exams are very hard and require the student to really understand the material.
Please read the following sample to warm up, and try to imagine each course. Note that sometimes you will receive three pieces of information, and sometimes only one or two. You will type your responses in the white boxes next to each item.