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Teaching variation – need a demo idea, please.

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  • #41568

    Elaine
    Participant

    I’m teaching a module on Introduction to Variation and am looking for a game or demo (other than repeated signatures with both dominant and non-dominant hands) to illustrate the difference between “common cause” and “special cause” variation. An alternative would be a game (other than the funnel demo) to illustrate the results of treating “common cause” as if it’s “special cause”. Thanks in advance for your ideas! Elaine

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    #130494

    Robert Butler
    Participant

      For an exercise – ask everyone if they have a watch with the ability to show seconds.  On your mark, ask everyone to write down the time including the seconds.  Make a tally sheet of minutes and seconds.  You can use this to discuss both ordinary and special cause variation. 
      If you are only interested in measurements to the nearest minute then the variation in seconds will be ordinary.  If you are interested in variation within plus minus 5 seconds of YOUR watch you can talk about both ordinary and special cause.  As another ploy – just before you get ready to give your talk deliberately add 5 minutes to the time on your watch – a plot of all of the minute readings in the class, including yours, will probably show your reading to be special cause.

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    #130511

    Elaine
    Participant

    Thanks, Robert.  I appreciate your reply.
    Elaine

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    #130515

    Andejrad Ich
    Participant

    Elaine,
    I know you asked specifically for a game or demo (and I don’t have one off-hand), but a great, real-life example that everyone can relate to is that of time it takes to drive to work from your house every day.  Common causes of variation include flow of traffic, normal weather variation, how the car is running each, how much of a hurry you feel like being in, how other cars around you are behaving, how many stop lights you make or miss, etc.  Special causes include road construction ahead (maybe even a flagman/lane restriction), an accident ahead, maybe you had a flat tire, maybe you are involved in an accident, extreme weather (blinding rain, several feet of snow, or a glaze of ice). 
    I don’t mean for this to replace a game or demo;  it’s just a really good example to include in training for people new to the idea.
    Andejrad

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    #130518

    Elaine
    Participant

    Andejrad
    Thanks so much for your input.  You included some examples I hadn’t thought of using.
    Elaine

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