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“Against All Odds”: Course Overview

The course is called Against All Odds and is located on URL. Curriculum was produced and written by Maggie Villiger and edited by Seth Bender, Brian Truglio, Jared Morris, David Berenson and Bret Upham with a list of other contributors. The topic of Against All Odds is related to statistics, as it shows how people of various professions and qualifications use statistics in their work. The curriculum is designed for college students and adults to teach them statistics, including theoretical and practical knowledge (Villiger, 2013). The course may be considered needed as statistical knowledge has a wide field of application and learning statistics may benefit students.

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Against All Odds course provides objectives, which are relatively specified and tied to standards. The curriculum consists of 32 consecutive units, with specific activities, various exercises and review materials related to the unit (Villiger, 2013). Course covers distinct aspects of statistical knowledge, starting from basic data and proceeding to more complicated and specific approaches. It does not provide specific lesson plans for teachers as the curriculum is designed mostly for self-study or to be used as a subsidiary materials in class. The course is directly tied to online materials as it consists of videos and tasks available online and a digital semblance of a textbook is used. However, the course offers a significantly structured plan with clear instructions and consistency, which makes it sufficiently robust and reliable. Moreover, the curriculum provides substantial teacher materials for classroom use, as there are three sets of faculty guides, covering the units, with additional commentaries, recommendations and possible solutions.

Against All Odds curriculum focuses its attention on development of a wide list of skills. The main skills are related to data analysis, calculations and formulation of conclusions. It also develops skills, which are required to obtain digital data and use online resources as well as video material perception and self-education skills. The curriculum does not appear to be easily customizable and modifiable, as the most of materials in the course are presented through video instructional series. It may be impossible or considerably hard to modify video materials. Despite, that, it is possible to omit some of the units, restructure their sequence or give additional information related to the topic. The program does not provide any record keeping or reporting information (Villiger, 2013). Therefore tasks related to securing the information and reporting to parents lie with the teachers. As already mentioned, the curriculum provides online elements for students, including videos, exercises and reading materials, yet it does not protect students while online by any means. There are no pre-assessments or student tracking mechanisms included in the program, hence teachers need to develop adequate approach to evaluate student’s progress and provide remediation themselves.

The Against All Odds program does not provide any specific training for teachers. Nevertheless, there are related materials such as faculty guides included, which may help teachers in assessment process, as well as to better understand in which way the information should be displayed (Villiger, 2013). The philosophical approach of the program is to encourage students to learn about complicated statistical and mathematical methods through spectacular real-life examples of practical implementation of these methods. Its approach also implies students being able to study the subject by themselves without compulsory involvement of the instructor. Even though the faculty guides include possible solutions for exercises and answers to most questions, there are no assessments provided.

Personally, I believe that the program would be relatively easy for a teacher or a school to implement for two main reasons. First, it consists of ready-to-use video materials, which require no specific preparations to be presented to the students. Second, each video unit is supported by comprehensive supplementary materials including video summary, activities and exercises. However, realistically speaking, it is not possible to implement the course at the moment, as the original 30-minute Against All Odds materials were removed and are no longer available.

Against All Odds course presents a variety of approaches to learning statistics, hence it may be considered to provide differentiation of teaching and learning. Even though the program’s main information source is represented by short videos, it also provides text materials, tasks and practical challenges. Therefore, Against All Odds uses mostly visual and listening perception, but also provides supplementary materials, which use reading, writing and calculating as main learning and teaching instruments. Moreover, statistical knowledge is presented through entertaining real-life phenomenon and practical ways to analyze them, making the program differ from more common approach to teaching (Gelman & Nolan, 2017). I believe that the curriculum addresses critical thinking skills significantly. First of all, statistics as a science addresses critical thinking by definition, as its main purpose is to critically analyze any events, through specific methods and calculations (Jackson, 2015). It also provides a variety of ways to structure data into more convenient for perception forms, which is indirectly related to critical thinking. In addition, the program encourages students to evaluate the probability of a wide list of events, which are wrongfully known to be rare or frequent, when they are the opposite.

The curriculum is not specifically culturally diverse, yet it covers phenomenon from all over the globe, referring to distinct places and related people, which may be considered as diversity. Against All Odds program is mostly student centered, implying there may be no teacher necessarily involved to conduct it. As already mentioned, the curriculum is designed for both self-education and to be used by teachers. For that reason, the program attaches great importance to the student’s ability to use it independently. Nevertheless, it also provides sufficient teacher centered materials to be used in class as the main source of information and schedule.

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On one hand, there are several reasons why a school might choose to adopt the above-mentioned curriculum. First, Against All Odds is related to statistics, which are considerably useful in any professional activities and should be taught to all students (Witte & Witte, 2019). Second, the program provides illustrative examples of practical use of statistical knowledge, which is crucial to interest students in the subject. Third, the video materials can be studied by students at home, allowing the teacher to pay more attention to practical exercises (Simonson et al., 2019). Moreover, the curriculum provides necessary supplementary student and faculty materials, utilizing all methods of data perception. Last but not least, the program is well-structured and provides a step-by-step approach to studying the subject, making it relatively easy to be implemented.

On the other hand there are multiple reasons for a school not to choose Against All Odds as a curriculum to adopt. First, it is mostly designed for self-study; hence it might be not suitable for school education. Second, most of course materials are represented by video programs, which may be not considered to be effective during in-class studying. Third, even though there are supplementary materials, the video course itself is relatively short and not suitable for long-term study. Furthermore, it was developed in 2013, making it possible for some facts and approaches to be outdated by now. Finally, the curriculum might not be useful, as video programs or not available anymore.

Against All Odds curriculum does not provide specific information about its research basis. There is also no documentation included, except for supplementary student and faculty materials. As far as I am concerned, Against All Odds is an entertaining program, which covers the subject of statistical knowledge use in practice. It might be incredibly effective in drawing student’s attention to the subject and it might also help to better understand how exactly statistics may be used in everyday life. In addition, the course provides a wide variety of exercises, questions and interactive tasks, utilizing different approaches in studying. Despite that, as a curriculum Against All Odds is relatively short and its visually relying methods may be considered controversial.

Conclusively, I doubt that the above-mentioned program might be successfully implemented as a fully-fledged curriculum. Nonetheless, it might be used a supporting material while learning or teaching statistics. Students might also address Against All Odds to better understand the subject themselves or use it as an independent brief course to obtain basic statistical knowledge. Teachers may partially use course materials to provide illustrative examples, interactive exercises or calculation tasks. Overall, I believe that the removal of video materials related to Against All Odds program is a significant omission.

References

Gelman, A., & Nolan, D. (2017). Teaching statistics: A bag of tricks. Oxford University Press.

Jackson, S. L. (2015). Research methods and statistics: A critical thinking approach. Cengage Learning.

Simonson, M., Zvacek, S. M., & Smaldino, S. (2019). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education 7th Edition.

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Villiger, M. (2013). Against All Odds: Inside Statistics. Annenberg Learner.

Witte, R. S., & Witte, J. S. (2019). Statistics. Wiley.

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