Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Students will be able to differentiate between the definition/consequences of correlation and causation. (Correlation is necessary but not sufficient for causation).
- Students will be able to identify different causal fallacies (common cause, reverse causation, oversimplified cause, bidirectional causation and coincidence) and apply their knowledge to real-world situations (news articles, scientific studies, peer conclusions, etc...).
- Students will be able to determine (using the correlation coefficient and randomized experiments) if the relationship within bivariate data is correlated, causal or both.
- Students will understand how assuming causation can lead to erroneous conclusions.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
- Students should be able to distinguish between univariate and bivariate data.
- Students should be able to graph bivariate data on a scatter plot.
- Students should be able to draw a line of best fit given a scatter plot of bivariate data.
- Students should be able to interpret the slope and intercept of their linear model (line of best fit) in terms of the situation at hand.
- Students should be able to calculate (using technology) and interpret the correlation coefficient in determining if two variables are correlated.
- Students should have an understanding of how two variables can be related (independent and dependent).
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
What is the main difference between two statements:
- A and B are correlated
- A causes B (or B causes A)
- When there is a correlation between A and B we can infer that the two are linked in some way after using logic and reason to eliminate the possibility of coincidence.
- When A causes B there is a much stronger relationship that implies the occurrence of B is a direct result of the occurrence of A.
- Note: correlation does not imply causation.
Sample Student Answer: Correlated means two events tend to happen together, caused means when one event occurs it is a direct result of another event occurring.
What are some techniques we can use to differentiate between correlation and causation?
- By using randomized experiments that hold all other variables constant can support (but not prove) a causal relationship.
- Using logic and reason to eliminate any other possible causes/influence.
Sample Student Answer: Controlled random experiments (The only thing changing is the variable you are looking at).
How is the correlation coefficient used in helping determine causation?
- When the absolute value of the correlation coefficient is closer to 1, there is a higher possibility for a causal relationship.
Sample Student Answer: The closer the coefficient is to 1 or -1, the more likely it is a cause.
How can the correlation coefficient be deceiving (and how can it help) when determining causation?
- The correlation coefficient can be deceiving in the sense that high correlations are often associated with causal relationships (high correlation can help support causal relationships, but cannot prove them).
- Correlation is necessary but not sufficient for causation.
Sample Student Answer: If there is a common cause, the coefficient will be higher, but that doesn't mean that one causes the other.
Why is it difficult to determine strict causation?
- Strong correlation coefficients may still point to a common causal variable (multiple causes) and not strict causation.
- Many (even most) real-world events do not have one single cause, but multiple contributing factors.
- We can conclude that one event is a cause of another, but to conclude that it is the cause is much more difficult.
Sample Student Answer: More than one thing may cause something to happen.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
***PowerPoint Presentation for use during Instruction: Correlation vs. Causation
*Note: The teacher should review technical examples on slides 8 and 10 and explain in student-friendly terms.
Learning Goal 1: Students will be able to differentiate between the definition/consequences of correlation and causation. (Correlation is necessary but not sufficient for causation)
- The concept/definition along with examples of each will be taught using slides 2-5 on the attached PowerPoint. Additional information can be found in the notes section attached to each slide. Formative assessment to be used in checking for understanding can be found on slide 5.
Learning Goal 2: Students will be able to identify different causal fallacies (common cause, reverse causation, oversimplified cause, bidirectional causation and coincidence) and apply their knowledge to real-world situations (news articles, scientific studies, peer conclusions, etc...).
- The causal fallacies along with examples can be found on slides 6-12 on the attached PowerPoint. Additional information can be found in the notes section attached to each slide. Formative assessment to be used in checking for understanding can be found on slide 13.
Learning Goal 3: Students will be able to determine (using the correlation coefficient and randomized experiments) if the relationship within bivariate data is correlated, causal or both.
- The teacher will give the students the assignment on slide 13 determining if the temperature is the cause for cricket chirping speed.
Learning Goal 4: Students will understand how assuming causation can lead to erroneous conclusions.
- The teacher will give the students the assignment of analyzing the graphs on slides 15-20 in determining what erroneous conclusions can be made.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Learning Goal 1: The teacher will analyze situations on slide 4 of the attached PowerPoint with the students.
Learning Goal 2: The teacher will work with the students in determining other examples of the causal fallacies (see slides 6, 8, 10, 11, 12).
Learning Goal 3: After the students use prior knowledge and logic/reason to infer if temperature affects cricket chirping speed, the teacher will review the process and reasoning of concluding that there is a causal relation (see notes on slide 14).
Learning Goal 4: After students attempt to infer possible erroneous conclusions within the situations on slides 15-20, the teacher will (after each slide) use the notes under each slide to give an example (if not stated by the students).
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Learning Goal 1: See slide 5 along with sample answers in the notes section.
Learning Goal 2: See slide 13 where students will attempt to determine the causal fallacy in each of the 5 situations.
Learning Goal 3: See 14 where students will, using the correlation coefficient and logic/reason, determine if a causal relationship exists between cricket chirping and temperature.
Learning Goal 4: See slides 15-20, where students will attempt to draw erroneous conclusions from the situations demonstrating correlation does not imply causation.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
The students will address the guiding questions located on slide 21 of the attached PowerPoint. Sample answers and reasoning can be found in the notes below the slide.
Worksheets and Answer Key:
Excel Data File:
During the teaching phase and guided practice, the teacher will present the theory behind the four stated learning goals as presented on the slides referred to under the 'teaching phase'. The teacher will then use the formative assessments to check for understanding, using the sample student answers in the 'formative assessment' to check for key concepts that should be presented by the students. If the students miss any of the concepts presented in the PDF document above, the teacher will use questioning to lead students toward the correct reasoning. Formative assessments will be administered following the presentation of each subsection correlated to each learning goal in the order they appear on the PowerPoint presentation.
Feedback to Students
- Following the presentation of each concept (by learning goal), students will be selected by the teacher to share their conclusions. The teacher will then have students agree or disagree explaining their answer. The teacher will elaborate with the above answers in the 'formative assessment' section (in red) if they are not mentioned.
- Students will use the feedback they receive as a class to improve their performance on the summative assessment.
- Learning goals practiced in the formative assessments will be re-evaluated by the teacher during the summative assessment.