Post hoc ergo propter hoc/ After this, therefore because of this.
- After my students score higher on the test, I always assume that the better score was due to my wonderful teaching.
- After the lazy student turned up to class without his textbook for the third time this morning (true event), naturally I presumed it was because he was too lazy to buy one.
- After the dean reject my proposal for more research grants for faculty, I reasoned that it was because he didn’t like me much.
- After sales of my latest textbook slumped, I got angry at the general market for failing to realise the great innovations in the book.
- After having yet another research grant rejected, I realised that the trustees hadn’t kept up with the latest literature and of course wouldn’t know why my proposal was perfect.
- After the returnee student scored the highest in the year group, I gladly accepted the teaching award.
- In my last published paper (true event, (Smiley, 2015)), I attributed my increased understanding of Rasch analysis to realising how Rasch was a better fit to my needs than classical test theory (instead of to the sheer hours of study I put in to grasping Rasch. In reality, it was probably a bit of both).
- In a very old paper (Smiley, 2005), I was delighted that my intuition was so accurate in a study of just one small set of data. (Instead of being wrong and this one case being a ‘fluke’.)
- In another ancient paper (Smiley, 2006), I decided that students’ ability to answer comprehension questions accurately was entirely down to the semantic distance, i.e. the “departure from the ‘here-and-now’ towards more distant concepts” (p. 23) which wasn’t shown conclusively by the quantitative results. (Instead of many other possible causes.)
I’ll link to these papers, not for any self-aggrandising purposes, but so you can see how easy these errors can be hidden in a paper. You’ll also see why I NEED to study at the doctoral level!
Smiley, J. (2005). Investigating Teacher Intuition. Explorations in Teacher Education, 13(3), 3-10. Available at: https://drive.google.com/folderview?usp=sharing&ddrp=1&id=0B9DzJeL9GOVGWFRNUUVFeXotQVE# (Look for V13_03)
Smiley, J. (2006). Semantic distance as a predictor of linguistic difficulty. Between the Keys, 14(3), 21-31. Available at: http://www.materialswriters.org/betweenthekeys/archives/
Smiley, J. (2015). Classical test theory or Rasch: A personal account from a novice user. Shiken, 19(1), 16-31. Available at: http://teval.jalt.org/