• Statistics Tables: Roulette and the Gambler’s Fallacy

This series of statistical examples is intended to inform students about the statistics and psychological ploys that casinos use on table games to make them more informed consumers. The aim of this series is to provide real-life examples of what students often only see as calculations on a page, or a topic in a textbook. This series is not intended to be a “how to beat the house” or any other sort of get rich quick scheme. If I had a way to beat the house, don’t you think I would be doing it and not giving up the secrets? Overall, it is good to think of casino games as good forms of entertainment, and you are encouraged to treat them as such. If you have or know someone who has a gambling problem, please use resources, and reach out to a professional for help.

Students often have a hard time conceptualizing independent events when calculating probabilities. The standard textbook example is to provide a probability matrix of events A and B along with their complements and have students compute the equation P(A|B)= P(A). Instead, let’s take the students back into the casino, this time to the Roulette table. The game is rather simple: a spinning wheel, with separated landing pockets distinguished by number and color, and ball are set in motion in opposite directions with the ball coming to rest in one of the 38 for an American Roulette wheel (or 37 for European Roulette, or 39 for Triple Zero Roulette wheels) numbered pockets. This example stays away from betting and different techniques and instead focuses on the simplistic spinning of the wheel to create the event. Any of the options that get the player closest to 50% on the Roulette Wheel can be used: Red/Black, Even/Odd, or 1-18/19-36. These options are all not 50% because of the inclusion of the 2 green 0 and 00 pockets (neither red/black, or even/odd, or between 1-18/19-36). The number and color of the pocket the ball lands in can be bet on using the different “outside spots” on the table (not a truly 50% bet since there are 18 red and 18 black and 38 spots on an American Roulette wheel 47.368%).

• Making the math of finance relevant to students’ lives

A recent survey sponsored by Inside Higher Education and College Pulse found that over 75% of undergraduate students will have student loan debt upon graduation. Of those students nearly half of the respondents do not know what their monthly payments will be. In the same study, about 25% of the students reported having credit debt and about 15% reported having car loans.1

Finite mathematics texts often include a chapter on the mathematics of finance, and for decades these books have covered topics such as amortization of consumer loans with an emphasis on home mortgages. Although mortgage loan examples are helpful because they often last thirty years and can involve large amounts of accrued interest, as the number of first-generation college students increase, a growing number of students do not come from families that paid a mortgage for their residence.

To make the mathematics of finance more relevant to students’ lived experiences, we emphasize examples that involve student loans, auto loans, and credit cards in Mathematics with Applications and Finite Mathematics.

Student loan examples

Even at a public university, the average amount of student loan debt in 2021 was \$30,030 for a bachelor’s degree. At an interest rate of 2.75%, that leads to a monthly payment of \$286.52. Over the course of 10 years, the total interest paid on the loan will be \$4,352.40.

Due to the rise of interest rates since the pandemic, the interest rate for student loans will be 5.50% for the 2023-2024 year,. To demonstrate the impact this will have on monthly payments, an instructor could ask the class, “With a current interest rate of 5.50%, how much does the monthly payment increase on the same amount borrowed of \$30,030 on a 10-year payment plan? How much total interest will accrue over the course of the payment plan?” The answer shows that the monthly payment increases by \$39.38, which may not appear to students to be a significant increase per month, but the overall interest paid over the course of the loan will more than double, to \$9,078.

Auto loan examples

The changes in the U.S. economy have also affected interest rates for auto loans. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System reported that, in November 2016, the average rate for a 6-month new auto loan from commercial banks was 4.05%. In May 2023, the same group reported an average interest rate of 7.81%. How do these changes affect monthly payments and total interest payments?

To make this even more interesting, and perhaps more relevant to students’ lives, nerdwallet.com2 reported in August 2023, average auto loan interest rates by credit score and whether the automobile purchased was new or used.

• Improve Math Test Scores by Asking the Right Questions

Every college math instructor has been there. The students have been actively engaged in class. They’ve completed their homework (for the most part). The majority have even turned in the test review that you provided. Yay! Then you grade the tests. Questions were left blank, many scored shockingly low, and several students left sad notes in the margins. Some did well, but so many failed that the bell curve is upside-down! How is it they learned so little?!

Then, we dive into the ice cream to ease the pain (or maybe that’s just me).

Well, put the ice cream back in the freezer, my friends, because there is hope! A few tweaks to the way you design test exercises could potentially improve test scores and right that bell curve, not by lowering standards, but by more accurately assessing student knowledge by asking more focused test questions.

How many levels of cognition are you assessing?

One of the challenges that college math students face is that most math exercises require several levels of cognition and a variety of mastered objectives. Consider the exercise: “Solve 5𝑥(𝑥−2) = 3𝑥−2.”

• Statistics Tables: Craps for the Normal Distribution

This series of statistical examples is intended to inform students about the statistics (and how it relates to the psychology) casinos use on table games to make them a more informed consumer. This series is not intended to be a “how to beat the house” or any other sort of get rich quick scheme. If I had a way to beat the house, don’t you think I would be doing it and not giving up the secrets? Overall, it is good to think of casino games as forms of entertainment, and you are encouraged to treat them as such. If you have or know someone who has a gambling problem, please use resources, and reach out to a professional for help.

Often students do not have a concept for the Normal Distribution when it comes to the sampling chapter, and the Galton Board is used to give students the visual reference in the classroom for discrete random variables showing a normal distribution when enough observations are dropped through the board. Unless students are soon to be contestants on The Price Is Right and are faced with Plinko, or NBC’s game show The Wall, they are not likely to encounter the board in their life outside the class. A more accessible way for students to see the normal distribution and understand the importance of sample size is the Craps Table.

The casino game of Craps is simplistic: the act of throwing two dice and summing up the showing faces is the experiment in the game of craps. While using the full casino game with payouts and their corresponding probabilities creates a valued learning activity, this activity focuses only on the act of rolling the dice. To emphasize the previous chapters (discrete random variables categorization and visualization)  the image below shows the number of ways the dice total can occur:

• The Power of Student Voices

By Pearson

At Pearson we take pride in enriching and transforming our courseware to be purpose-built for learning. At the heart of our innovation are our partnerships: with trusted authors and with students. We’re passionate about student success, and to ensure their success we listen to and incorporate the student voice. To shed light on how we do this, Ben Piercy, a Product Marketer at Pearson, shares insights on the transformative impact of engaging students.

Q: Why does Pearson prioritize hosting student focus groups?

A: Having a pipeline and access to students helps give us a pulse on what's going on in the campus life to both instructors and students. We are able to understand, empathize, and forecast product solutions to help instructors teach and students to better learn and prepare for careers after college.

What's even cooler is that when students see that their opinions matter, they become more invested. It's not just a transaction anymore; it's a partnership. They become advocates, telling their friends about how their feedback led to real changes. That's like marketing gold right there, but more importantly, it's a testament to the power of involving our users in the process.

Q: How does hearing the student voice contribute to the overall improvement of our products?

A: Again at the heart of it all, they're the ones who are using our tools as well as competitors and technology and apps outside of higher ed. Day in and day out, they navigate the ins and outs, and really experiencing firsthand what works and what could use a little tweak, how can we be different from competitors or what cool new app feature we need to think about building into our products-  That's where the student voice comes in, and let me tell you, it's like gold for us. They are not just our users or customers – we think of students as co-creators.

Q: What specific aspects of student feedback are you looking to gather through the focus groups?

A: Whether it's through focus groups, surveys, or product testing, we're getting an inside look into their world. We get to hear about their "Aha!" moments, the times when they felt the product really hit the mark. But we also get to hear about the times when things didn't quite click, the frustrations they faced, or the features they wished were there to make their education and learning experience better.

Q: Can you share examples of how insights from focus groups have influence product development or marketing strategies?

A: Sometimes, they come up with ideas we hadn't even thought of. It's like a brainstorming session where the students are the experts – they know exactly what they need to succeed in their academic journey. It's like having a secret weapon in our quest to create amazing products.

When we were in the discovery phase of developing our Freehand Grader feature, we needed to understand student benefit of being able to complete handwritten homework and upload back to the platform. Through journey mapping exercise with a variety of students we uncovered multiple pain points in which we were able to solution for our MVP launch.

Every year there are new features and enhancements to our platform. We try to map out the best ways to communicate to students the new learning content and study tools they have access to. Last year we were able to journey map with a focus group to determine that fall back to school was a very chaotic time in students' lives. They are balancing getting back on campus, work schedules, social activities, sports clubs, friends and of course school. We found that a more targeted message a month after their start date was the perfect time to include messaging to help them utilize new features for upcoming tests.

Q: How does incorporating student feedback through these focus groups contribute to creating a more student-centered and inclusive learning environment?

A: Our goal is to make sure no student feels left out, unheard, or unseen. By inviting diverse voices into these focus groups, we're giving students from various backgrounds, abilities, and experiences a platform to share their perspectives. This is how we ensure that our products are not only effective but also welcoming and respectful of everyone's individuality.

Think about it – students bring their own stories, challenges, and strengths to the table. By listening to their stories, we can identify areas where our products might unintentionally create barriers or exclude certain groups. This awareness empowers us to make informed decisions that promote inclusivity and accessibility, creating a learning environment where every student feels valued and empowered.

Moreover, when students see that we genuinely care about their input, it fosters a sense of belonging. They become active participants in shaping their own educational experience, which boosts their engagement and motivation. It's like giving them a front-row seat in the classroom of product development.

By incorporating student feedback, we're teaching a valuable lesson – that their voices matter, not just in the realm of education but in the wider world too. It's a real-world application of the power of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. These are skills that go beyond the classroom and empower them to be active, confident participants in society.

Q: Can you elaborate on how involving students in the decision making process helps address their unique needs and challenges within higher education?

A: Students higher education journey isn't a one-size-fits-all journey. Each student has their own story, from juggling work and studies to navigating virtual learning environments or managing financial constraints. By involving them in decisions, we're essentially customizing our offerings to suit their unique circumstances.

Think about a puzzle – each piece is essential to complete the picture. Similarly, each student's perspective is crucial for us to paint a comprehensive picture of their needs. When they share their challenges, we gain a clearer understanding of where the roadblocks are. Maybe it's a technology hiccup that's causing frustration or a lack of resources that's hindering their progress. Armed with this knowledge, we can develop solutions that directly address these pain points, making their educational journey smoother.

In essence, involving students in decision-making is a two-way street. It's about them guiding us toward solutions that address their real-world challenges, and it's about us empowering them to take an active role in shaping the educational experience they deserve. It's a partnership that not only enhances their learning but also enriches the higher education landscape as a whole. Just like a skilled navigator, their insights lead us to uncharted territories of understanding, empathy, and meaningful change.

Q: How do you measure the effectiveness of the insights gained from student focus groups in terms of product success?

A: We dive into the numbers, the quantitative metrics. Are more students using the variety of tools and features we tweaked based on their suggestions? Are they spending more time on certain places within the platform? These are like little indicators that tell us we're on the right track, that our changes are resonating with them.

But it's not just about crunching numbers. We're all about the human touch, too. We ask for direct qualitative feedback through user satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and student testimonials. It's like asking, "Hey, how are we doing?" And when we see a spike in positive responses or heartfelt testimonials mentioning how a specific improvement made their lives easier, that's a thumbs-up that we're hitting the mark.

Think of it as a ripple effect – those insights from students can lead to innovative features. And when users start adopting these features and telling their friends about them, it's like watching the ripples spread in a pond. That's the kind of impact we're after.

You know, we also look at the bigger picture. Did the changes we made align with our product goals? Did they give us an edge in the competitive landscape? These are like checkpoints that help us see if the insights are steering us in the right direction.

In a nutshell, we're like detectives, piecing together clues from different sources – numbers, feedback, alignment with objectives – to see if the insights gathered from student focus groups are translating into a product that students love and find incredibly valuable. It's a journey that's both exciting and rewarding, and the students' voices are our compass guiding us to success.

Q: What steps does Pearson take to ensure that the feedback collected from focus groups is translated into actionable changes?

A: The product marketing team is the intersection of the entire business. We sit between sales, product management, marketing, customer success, and customer support. We are able to effectively communicate key market insights into product development roadmaps and create the positioning messaging that we utilize in strategic marketing campaigns.

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, the constant is the student voice. We recognize each shift in this space and turn to the student to develop platforms and tools that are adapted to them, purpose-built for their success.

• Supportive Student-Teacher Relationships are Key to Nursing Student Success

By Pearson

More than 3.5 million nurses around the country are currently providing a variety of essential healthcare services. In doing so, they are spending more hours with patients than any other profession in the industry, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which is why it’s essential for nurses to have a solid foundation of knowledge in the field and to develop a strong sense of confidence that can sustain them throughout their careers.

Nursing is the linchpin of the American healthcare system, but experts predict that the system could break. The Baby Boomer generation is aging and requiring more care; nursing programs are experiencing faculty shortages that restrict the number of students they can admit each year; and nurses are being pulled in so many different directions that they are burning out and leaving the profession at historic rates, according to a report from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

How can nurse educators provide a foundational learning experience that helps nurses thrive?

In addition to incorporating concept-based learning into the curriculum to prepare nursing students for challenging clinical environments, another important way to facilitate critical growth in the nursing profession is to support the role that student-teacher relationships play in promoting positive learning outcomes and strong retention rates.

Nurse educators play a vital role

Regardless of the level of difficulty or the subject matter being covered, the truly effective teachers are the ones who can connect with their students in meaningful ways. The student-teacher relationship is especially influential in nursing education programs, where the information is complex and mistakes can cost lives.

Nurse educator Tammy Vant Hul, Riverside City College, PhD, MSN, RN, ACNP, CNE, says that building a sense of trust between instructor and student is crucial. “I think helping students work through the idea that the only thing that they can\, put their money on is that their patients are going to change from the time they walk in there in the morning. The environment that they work in will change almost weekly.”

The student-teacher connection in nursing education is described as “a place of possibility” by Mary Gillespie, a professor of critical care nursing at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. “The qualities inherent in the essence of connection — knowing, trust, respect, and mutuality — create a transformative space in which students are affirmed, gain insight into their potential, and grow toward fulfilling personal and professional capacities,” she writes in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Other research has concluded that nurse educators who provide a supportive teaching context can dramatically alter a nursing student’s approach to learning, inspiring them to engage more deeply with the material and become active, enthusiastic learners. A positive learning environment has also been shown to bolster resilience in nursing students, a key factor in achieving academic success and professional longevity in the field.

Vant Hul and her colleagues, for example, don’t conduct “high stakes testing” because doing so can damage a student’s sense of psychological safety and interfere with the learning process. When one of Vant Hul’s students makes a mistake during a simulation exercise, she helps them learn from it by asking questions that encourage them to reflect on their performance, such as: What just happened? How could you have handled this situation better? and What will you do differently next time?

Cultivating a positive relationship while maintaining professional boundaries and holding students accountable for their learning is not a straightforward task. Gillespie emphasizes that nurse educators need to be trained in how to help students grow their own relational competencies, as well as how to keep the “educator-in-relationship” role in mind when assessing students.

The importance of promoting dignity

In healthcare, the concept of dignity — a human being’s intrinsic worth and fundamental right to be treated with respect — is often discussed in relation to the patient who is being cared for, not the nurse who is caring for that patient. However, when it comes to training and retaining nurses, it is the dignity of these essential healthcare providers that needs to be of paramount importance to educators.

“It is a goal in nursing education to promote students' dignity and facilitate this core value,” write Tone Stikholmen, Dagfinn Nåden, and Herdis Alvsvåg in a study published in Nursing Ethics. The study found a meaningful link between the student-teacher relationship and a nursing students’ experience with dignity. When an educator was affirming, empathetic, and accepting, students were more likely to have confidence in their abilities and to be more present in patient situations.

In the student interviews conducted by Stikholmen and his colleagues, the following recommendations for nurse educators emerged:

• Cultivating Empowered Learners: An educator spotlight on Pearson eTextbooks

By Pearson

Justin Hoshaw, associate professor of biology at Waubonsee Community College, knows that an educator must always search for more effective ways to support their students’ learning, which is why he has used Pearson's cutting-edge online learning platforms and eTextbooks in his classes for years.

Recently, Justin and a colleague conducted an extensive evaluation of their microbiology course, which included the consideration of new options for the course’s primary textbook. During their search, they reviewed Microbiology: Basic and Clinical Principles by Lourdes P. Norman-McKay. Both were so impressed with the eTextbook that they were the first educators in the country to adopt it — even before it was officially published.

eTextbook features that support student learning

eTextbooks offer an array of unique features to support students’ learning.

1. highlight and take notes
2. search for a specific term or idea
3. make flashcards based on key concepts
4. listen to the audio version*

The benefits of making the switch to eTextbooks

Previously, Justin encouraged his students to buy the print version of his course’s textbook, but he changed his mind after witnessing the many advantages of eTextbooks for students and educators.

For students, the ability to highlight and take notes in the eTextbook can help with overall comprehension. And when it’s time to prepare for assessments, they can use their annotations (as well as the learning objectives that accompany each section) to focus their study efforts and maximize their efficiency. As Justin says, “There are some students that are going to go back and reread the whole chapter when studying for an exam. No, let’s go back and look at those highlights. Look at the comments you added into the text. It will save you time. It will help you focus on those important concepts that you’ve already highlighted and already commented on. You are going to be more successful reflecting on that information.”

The Pearson+ mobile app that offers both the eTextbook and audiobook options is especially beneficial for busy students. The convenience and flexibility of accessing their course materials on the go helps them keep up with their assignments. “There is a benefit to being able to go through and read the text, but then having the audio to listen to as they are reading, I think that really helps reinforce the information for the students. It helps keep them on track,” says Justin.

As an educator, Justin also finds many of the features of eTextbooks and the Mastering online learning platform helpful, particularly the instructor dashboard. The analytics provided within Mastering Microbiology help him understand how his students are interacting with the eTextbook. “That was something that caused me to take a second look at having students use the eTextbook, the ability for the faculty member to go in and identify how long students have spent reading, how many comments they’ve made, how many highlights they’ve made,” he says. This is valuable information that Justin can use to support students who are struggling or falling behind in the course.

The feature Justin found most impressive about Norman-McKay's eTextbook in particular was the way the content guided students through the learning process. "What clinched the deal was the study recommendations and coaching throughout the text,” he says. “I had never seen so many tips for students to keep in mind that would help them understand the material. It was as if the instruction was already embedded into the text and coaching them along.”

Justin’s students agree that the layout of the content and the tone of the writing made them feel more engaged with the information. “They felt like they had a tutor right there with them while they were reading the text, Justin remarks.

Pearson partners with innovative authors to create enriching experiences that meet learners where they are and inspire them to love learning. Justin’s experiences with Pearson eTextbooks and online learning platforms has convinced him that he made the right choice to switch from print to digital.

*Audiobook available in most titles

• Pearson has the pulse on what Higher Education students need

By Pearson

The landscape of higher education has changed dramatically over the past few years – a global pandemic, the push for greater equity and inclusion in education, and the advent of generative AI have all played a role in altering how, when, and where people learn. Online and hybrid degree programs have become more mainstream, enabling a larger population of people to gain access to learning opportunities.

The need for students’ perspectives to be considered by decision-makers in higher education has never been more urgent. This need is what inspired Pearson to conduct our Student Success Survey, a review of college and university students that gives voice to their experiences and paves the way for meaningful improvement in the design and development of courses and tools in higher education.

The challenges: time management and focus

The top two issues facing the group of students surveyed were: time management and staying focused.

Time management issues

The survey responses show that students need more support when balancing their coursework with their other obligations. As one student from Merced College wrote, “I am constantly updating my time management system but none of it seems to work.”

Time management is a significant sticking point, not because students do not know how to manage their time, but because their lives have become so busy that the usual methods of keeping track of their to-dos are insufficient.

Many students must juggle full-time work and family responsibilities in addition to their studies. One respondent, a mom of three kids studying at the Delta College of San Joaquin, wrote, “Between classes, assignments, and activities, it can be difficult to find enough time in the day to get everything done. I try my best to prioritize my tasks and create a schedule, but sometimes unexpected events can throw me off track.”

Once a student gets knocked off track, it can be extremely difficult to help them get back on, especially at the higher education level.

Trouble focusing

Challenges with maintaining focus while reading and studying was the other primary problem for the students who participated in the survey. Nearly 40% of students reported trouble focusing as a significant obstacle to their learning.

Another Merced Community College student cites the pandemic as the turning point for their ability to focus on schoolwork. “I feel that after the pandemic I haven't been able to focus on anything.”

That student is not alone in feeling as though the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enduring negative impact on their ability to learn, even though many aspects of daily life have returned to a pre-pandemic state of functioning. A recent study published in Psychiatry Research found a link between the increased levels of stress and fear experienced by many college students during the pandemic and ongoing issues with focus and attention.

Pearson’s solution: Make students’ learning more efficient and engaging

The best way to learn how a student wants to learn is to hear it directly from them. Listening to student voices is essential, especially now, which is why we continue to connect with students directly, through focus groups, surveys, etc.

The results of the new Student Success Survey made it obvious that we are on the right track when it comes to understanding the two most significant issues for students:

• Time management
• Maintaining focus and engagement

We also found that the existing resources provided by Pearson have proven useful in addressing these areas of concern.

• Support every learner, with Pearson’s accessible learning solutions

By Pearson

Our mission is simple: to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Because wherever learning flourishes, so do people. We'll only be successful when our educational materials are accessible to all users, and we’ve long been committed to providing access to learners with disabilities. That commitment is woven into the fabric of our learning materials, development processes, innovation efforts, employee culture, and partnerships.

We’re proud to have been recognized as a Benetech Global Certified Accessible™ (GCA) publisher. The first third-party EPUB certification program to verify eBook accessibility. (Learn more about this achievement, and our new partnership with Benetech.)

Accessibility in MyLab and Mastering

Pearson’s Faculty Advisors recently led best practice webinars for our two leading learning platforms, exploring accessibility features designed to help more learners succeed. (We invite you to watch the recorded webinars: MyLab or Mastering.)