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Carlos S.
Education Doctoral Student at University of California, Irvine
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Quality Management
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Question:

One interesting problem in quality management is managing a diverse set of stakeholders to solve a problem. A classic problem space is that of decision-making. The problem is as follows: You are tasked with making a decision about a key about a production process. The production process is executed by workers and their supervisors have specific routines triggered by and attached to the completion of those processes. How would you go about making a decision?

Carlos S.
Answer:

The purpose of this prompt is to elicit student thinking about decision-making, especially *with* stakeholders rather than for them. If you change a process without considering the work processes of on-the-ground workers, then changes fail and workers become disgruntled. Why did the person up top make decisions when they're not the ones on the ground doing the actual work? It's also important to consider the consequences of outcome productions and the connection between that and worker morale.

Writing
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Question:

Make a cohesive argument for why your favorite sports team is the best.

Carlos S.
Answer:

This is a low-floor, high-ceiling writing prompt for argumentative essay writing. One strategy for writing a cohesive paper is through various sentence and paragraph structures. For example, one structure that has stuck with me as a writer is that of AXES: you structure your paragraph with an assertion, and then support it with an example, explain that example, and then explain the significance of this example and this assertion to the significance of the overall paper.

Statistics
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Question:

Two basketball teams with the same schedule have scored the following number of points over the past ten games: Team A: 90, 89, 91, 91, 90, 94, 92, 91, 90, 92 Team B: 100, 115, 74, 61, 84, 91, 111, 59, 122, 93 Which team did better?

Carlos S.
Answer:

This question is an interesting one because one thing many students come into stats classes knowing is how to calculate measures of center, particularly mean. If you calculate the mean, you notice something odd: both teams average 91 points per game. The data, though, look very different from one another. What's going on? This problem is interesting because there are a number of statistical concepts that can be taught here. First is the importance of plotting and visualizing data. The data from the two teams look super different. In the practice of statistics, it's always a good idea to see what your data look like. Another concept that can branch from this is the advantages and disadvantages of the mean as a measure of center. The mean as a basic measure of center takes into account all data, including outliers and extreme points. These can skew the mean. It is extremely sensitive to wide variation. This is a great way to introduce the median, which uses positioning in a dataset as a way to measure center. Knowing which one to use when is super important in statistics. A third concept is the importance of measuring variation. In statistics, students don't usually know what variance or standard deviation are measuring. This is a way to introduce those statistics as ways to describe the data. And, in statistics, variation is probably the most central statistic in making inferences about data. A fourth concept is the different ways to make inferences about data, and in this case, how to compare two groups. On these data, you can run a variety of statistical tests to determine a) which did better, statistically, and b) are the two groups different, statistically? There are many more that come from this seemingly simple problem!

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