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How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:41 pm
by Maxwell's Sexual Relations
I am trying to convince the OSSAA to select HSAPQ as their question provider. In order to do this I need to simply and briefly illustrate the flaws with non-pyramidal quizbowl to coaches who are quite happy with it. Any suggestions?

Re: How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:50 pm
by Deviant Insider
Do you have access to questions from the current provider?

Re: How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:09 pm
by Maxwell's Sexual Relations
They use Questions Galore. But, unfortunately (or rather fortunately) I don't have any questions they have produced.

Re: How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:11 pm
by SunWukong
This google doc is one of a few quizbowl resources that have appeared on my google account. It compares a couple of questions on George Washington and explains pyramidally. I find it to be a bit aggressive in its bashing of the questions that its intended audience is likely fond of, and I believe it was written with California regional concerns in mind. It does a good job explaining the merits of pyramidal questions and you might take some explanatory ideas from it.

Re: How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:20 pm
by cchiego
The best thing you can do is to try to walk them through sample questions of each from the perspective of a player. When can a player buzz? What effect does each part of the question have on what each player is thinking? How does the different structure of the questions reward knowledge (or not)? Try to show them how hoses and buzzer races work to penalize knowledge and reward luck or binary memorization (as opposed to learning real things about a subject).

Also emphasize how the pyramidal questions encourage students to learn more about each subject. Sometimes you'll run into an organization that specifically wants to penalize learning in which case you're screwed, but most educators have at least a modicum of passion for encouraging students to learn. Mention too that much of the quizbowl practice material out there is available free for all teams to use, including all of HSAPQ's past sets.

You may also want to enlist the aid of as many other people who like good quizbowl in the state as possible. One person is probably not going to be taken seriously, but a large group of voices from various places (especially coaches) can be quite valuable.

Finally, you may want to offer them options other than just HSAPQ. NAQT IS-A sets might work as a good bridge between super-short bad questions and the best pyramidal questions. As weird as it is, the "eyeball" test of how long a question looks seems to be a huge factor for people used to bad questions so don't think it has to be an "all or nothing" kind of change. Plus, it's very likely that if you go for a non-mathcomp provider that you'll get pushback on mathcomp; you may just want to agree to compromise on that and have them include it since some coaches (especially math ones) make that their single sticking point against pyramidal questions.

Re: How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:03 pm
by Maxwell's Sexual Relations
Thanks for the advice this should be useful at the Oklahoma fall coaches meeting.

Re: How to Explain Pyramidality

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:27 am
by nadph