Teaching Bayes using something students get: Grades.

When it comes to teaching Bayesian reasoning, I am always searching for new ways to relate the process of formal belief updating to students.  One idea I had, was to use something that is no doubt on the minds of many students most of the time: their grades.

This worksheet (pdf) allows students to place prior probabilities on their grade outcomes in a course.  They can then use their observations (grades on assignments, quizzes, etc) to update their grades probability distribution. As my students use R in the lab, they can then plot their posteriors as the course progresses.  The exercise can also be used to explore the idea that any prediction/inference made in this way is always conditional on the model.

Feel free to try it out in your class!

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