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Author: Emmanuel Garcia
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AB 705 and Us

March 06, 2020

What Is Psychological Bias?

The Behavioral Revolution

What is it?

Cognitive bias is the tendency to make decisions or take action in an illogical way.

  • Subconsciously make selective use of data
  • You might feel pressured to make a decision by powerful colleagues.

They recommend “thinking slowly” to avoid bias.

History

  • CIA’s “Psychology of Intelligence Analysis” written in the wake of intelligence mishaps in Vietnam. It was republished post 9/11.
  • Recommended that analysts not look to see whether hypothesis agrees with data but whether hypothesis doesn’t disagree.
  • Hypothesis which disagrees least with information is probably true.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias happens when you look for information that supports your existing beliefs, and reject data that go against what you believe. This can lead you to make biased decisions, because you don’t factor in all of the relevant information.

People have a tendency to infer information from statistics that support their existing beliefs, even when the data support an opposing view. That makes confirmation bias a potentially serious problem to overcome when you need to make a statistics-based decision.

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/avoiding-psychological-bias.htm

Fundamental Attribution Error

159 Velocity

All Statistics Students

Delta is the 2018FA to 2019FA change. Five years of data for historical trend.

pf 2015FA 2016FA 2017FA 2018FA 2019FA Delta
P 319 281 341 420 586 166
F 43 50 66 35 120 85
W 44 115 85 75 203 128
Total 406 446 492 530 909 379

STEM students

Students who took another transfer level math course–188 or above. We didn’t get any extra “completers” from this category and total remains fairly constant over time.

pf 2015FA 2016FA 2017FA 2018FA 2019FA Delta
P 78 80 73 89 85 -4
F 1 4 6 4 5 1
W 6 7 7 4 14 10
Total 85 91 86 97 104 7

Pathway students

These students took a below transfer level math course. We didn’t get any extra “completers” from this group either which is unfortunate since the group increased by 91.

pf 2015FA 2016FA 2017FA 2018FA 2019FA Delta
P 196 163 191 215 214 -1
F 37 38 53 24 64 40
W 36 86 65 61 113 52
Total 269 287 309 300 391 91

Placed students

The increase in “completers” came solely from this category.

pf 2015FA 2016FA 2017FA 2018FA 2019FA Delta
P 45 38 77 116 287 171
F 5 8 7 7 51 44
W 2 22 13 10 76 66
Total 52 68 97 133 414 281

Random Variation

We all know that stochastic processes display random variation. The question is whether we can conclude there is a change given the magnitude of the change compared to historical data.

Proportion View

Fall 2019 comparison of pass, fail, and withdraw rates.

pf Overall STEM Below Transfer 158 Placed
P 64.5% (586) 81.7% (85) 56.9% (173) 47.1% (41) 69.3% (287)
F 13.2% (120) 4.8% (5) 16.8% (51) 14.9% (13) 12.3% (51)
W 22.3% (203) 13.5% (14) 26.3% (80) 37.9% (33) 18.4% (76)
Total 100.0% (909) 100.0% (104) 100.0% (304) 100.0% (87) 100.0% (414)

Conclusions

  • 158 didn’t obviously do better than students coming from other below transfer level math courses.
  • Failure rates don’t change much. It is the withdraw rate that sky rockets.

Further Questions

  • Students appear to be placing themselves well? Thoughts?
  • Maybe students that self-place in 158 are correct in their view like the OMG 101B effect?
  • Survey students who withdraw and fail?
  • What can we do for remedial pathways students?
  • What can the department as a whole focus on?