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Reacting to the Past: Extended Simulations and the Learning Experience in Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  ments, or methods?”, and “Did coursework emphasize applying theories or concepts to new situations?” Since these data are recorded on ordinal scales, a two sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to analyze differences in the responses of the two groups. The test statistic for the two sam- ple Kolmogorov-Smirnov test is D, the maximum absolute difference between the cumulative relative frequencies of distributions of responses within categories in two groups. Significance is determined by an approximation of the sampling distribution of D using the chi-square distribu- tion (Blalock 1970). I have reported both statistics for each question, comparing results from the two Reacting classes. All forms of the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test have relatively low power. Given that the survey used has not been validated independently and that there are substantial differences in the number of cases in the two groups, this is probably desirable. (Table 1 about here) Table 1 reports comparisons of responses from students in the Reacting courses and aggre- gate readings for the same questions for all other Cornerstone seminars. As can be seen the re- sults are variable between the two Reacting classes. Both classes show strong evidence of active learning among the Reacting students. Significant differences between Reacting and conven- tional seminars can be found for six of the eight comparisons in the study for this hypothesis. Re- sults are especially strong for the Fall 2007 class; all four questions show significant differences. The other two hypotheses show more variable results. For both hypothesized relationships, there are significant readings for most questions for the first Reacting class, but not the second. This is a puzzling result. It is notable that for the questions reflecting critical thinking the proportion of students answering in the more positive categories (“Often”, “Very Often”, “Quite a bit”, and 13

Authors: Lightcap, Tracy.
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ments, or methods?”, and “Did coursework emphasize applying theories or concepts to new
situations?”
Since these data are recorded on ordinal scales, a two sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was
used to analyze differences in the responses of the two groups. The test statistic for the two sam-
ple Kolmogorov-Smirnov test is D, the maximum absolute difference between the cumulative
relative frequencies of distributions of responses within categories in two groups. Significance is
determined by an approximation of the sampling distribution of D using the chi-square distribu-
tion (Blalock 1970). I have reported both statistics for each question, comparing results from the
two Reacting classes. All forms of the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test have relatively low power.
Given that the survey used has not been validated independently and that there are substantial
differences in the number of cases in the two groups, this is probably desirable.
(Table 1 about here)
Table 1 reports comparisons of responses from students in the Reacting courses and aggre-
gate readings for the same questions for all other Cornerstone seminars. As can be seen the re-
sults are variable between the two Reacting classes. Both classes show strong evidence of active
learning among the Reacting students. Significant differences between Reacting and conven-
tional seminars can be found for six of the eight comparisons in the study for this hypothesis. Re-
sults are especially strong for the Fall 2007 class; all four questions show significant differences.
The other two hypotheses show more variable results. For both hypothesized relationships, there
are significant readings for most questions for the first Reacting class, but not the second. This is
a puzzling result. It is notable that for the questions reflecting critical thinking the proportion of
students answering in the more positive categories (“Often”, “Very Often”, “Quite a bit”, and
13


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