Parking Behavior May Reflect Economic Drive is the title of an NPR piece on a new study suggesting that a nation’s economic health can be evaluated by if its drivers back-in or drive-forward into a parking space.

The study itself has big enough holes through which you could drive a truck, but that’s not that important for how I envision using it in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class when we study human sciences.

The key point is made by NPR’s science correspondent at the end:


I think I’m going to have my TOK students read the NPR piece and many of the comments (while also looking at the issue of causation versus correlation), and then have them design a simple experiment (that they wouldn’t actually carry out) based on what they see around them and, at the same time, look at it through the lens of causation versus correlation.

For example, they could design an experiment studying if students who arrive last at their classes have lower grades than those who arrive first or if teachers who arrive at school forty-five minutes earlier at school are “better” teachers than those who arrive fifteen minutes earlier. Then, they could also discuss how causation versus correlation would fit into it.

What do you think? Are there ways I could make it a better lesson?