A Simple Problem in Classifying

Use the words in the following list to write a letter to your family back in Europe on your life in in the New England Colonies about 1750:

Figure A1. Commonly-spoken vocabulary in the New England Colonies prior to the Revolutionary War (c. 1750). Adapted from Barry K.Beyer. 1987. Practical Strategies for the Teaching of Thinking. Allyn & Bacon.)

Identifying Characteristics of a Binary System of Classification
Look at the set of "creatures" shown below and observe their similarities and differences. In the left hand column of Table 1, list at least three more observable properties by which the creatures could be grouped into two subsets. Then, in the "Yes" column, write the names of the creatures that have the property that you have identified. In the "No" column, write the names of the creatures that lack the property. An example is provided. Be aware that a subset may contain one or more than one creature; it cannot contain all of them, however.

Figure A2. Creatures to be classified.

Observable Properties Yes No
Speckled body (example) 1, 5, 6 2, 3, 4
. . .. . .. . .
. . .. . .. . .
. . .. . .. . .
Table 1. Grouping "creatures" in a binary fashion.

Notice, as in the example, that for each property, the subsets include all the objects in the original set and that every object is assignable to one and only one of the subsets. Check to be certain that your work in the preceding chart meets these two very important criteria.

Compare your answers with those of a classmate.

Using multiple properties to classify.

Binary classification can also be used when you wish to group objects together that have more than one property in common.

  1. Get a set of buttons labeled "Multiple Properties."

  2. List some of the ways that the buttons can be grouped using multiple characteristics?

  3. Make up a multiple properties rule for grouping the buttons into 2 sets.

  4. Group the buttons according to your rule.

  5. See if a lab partner can determine your grouping rule.

  6. Switch roles with your partner.

Introduction | Part B: Dichotomous System | Part C: Sequencing

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