3
$\begingroup$

I am going to teach this probability and statistics course in a couple of weeks. The probability part can be made very interesting, in my opinion, easily. But I am a little worried that I might make the statistics part a boring collection of information and algorithmic manipulations. So my question is, how do I make the statistics part of the course interesting?

The syllabus for the stat part is roughly the contents of this book.

$\endgroup$
6
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That's a lot of topics to cover! There may not be room, but a project where the students apply the statistics to data of interest to them, can generate considerable enthusiasm. $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Apr 19 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Who are the intended students? High school students? Undergraduates? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Apr 20 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ First year undergraduates. $\endgroup$ – mukhujje Apr 20 at 4:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don’t know who your clientele is, but my students, half of which are business-degree candidates, seem more excited by the statistics part of the course than the probability. It could have to do with the quasi-real scenarios for the problems and emphasis on practical applications. And the use of computation to avoid drudgery. $\endgroup$ – user615 Apr 20 at 16:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've always liked How to Lie With Statistics. It was originally published in 1954 but was reissued in 1993. $\endgroup$ – user10216038 Apr 21 at 3:42
2
$\begingroup$

Expanding a bit on my comment, there is (1) a new textbook available for project-based intro stats, (2) an online syllabus describing a course based on community projects, and (3) an academic paper concluding that "the project-based course ... provides a promising model for getting students hooked on the power and excitement of applied statistics."

  • (1) Chelsea Myers. Project-Based R Companion to Introductory Statistics. Routledge link.

  • (2) Cindy Kaus, Introductory Statistics with Community-Based Projects. Metropolitan link.

  • (3) Dierker, Lisa, Jane Robertson Evia, Karen Singer-Freeman, Kristin Woods, Janet Zupkus, Alan Arnholt, Elizabeth G. Moliski, Natalie Delia Deckard, Kristel Gallagher, and Jennifer Rose. "Project-based learning in introductory statistics: Comparing course experiences and predicting positive outcomes for students from diverse educational settings." International Journal of Educational Technology and Learning 3, no. 2 (2018): 52-64. Journal link.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

That's pretty normal to have a lot of ground to cover. Even with the more friendly books, it still ends up being a lot of concepts and formulas. Given this, I think you sort of have to make your peace with the idea that kids will not master everything, especially in the long term. I probably wouldn't try some fundamental change to improve things since it may make things worse (like adding a big project or the like). Just engage with the kids, be animated and sort of cheerlead through the thing. Maybe tell a sea story or two.

Whereas I have an iconic recall of the quadratic formula, I don't think I've ever used a chi test in a class or business/engineering situation. And I don't remember the formula. Or what is different about it versus a t test. But at least I sorta "heard of it".

In terms of basic lasting concepts, I think they should have lasting knowledge that normal distribution is a "bell curve" and is a decent guess when you have no clue. Along with the very basic concepts of confidence intervals (not every tricky caveat or logic issue but just the idea of 90% CI).

After that, just the info that there are a lot of concepts, formulas, and things can be tricky. So if someone quotes a statistic know that it may have issues. And if you are working on something statistical, bring in a professional/watch out for errors. [But again, I know "rigor people" hate this, but I think you have to set the bar lower at "exposure" rather than "mastery". Pound smart, not penny foolish.]

$\endgroup$
3
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I rarely think "exposure" is useful to anyone. If there are too many topics to actually understand or retain anything, remove topics until you have a course which can be comprehended. $\endgroup$ – Steven Gubkin Apr 20 at 17:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You've pretty much described the "Fundamentals of Statistics & Probability" course that I underwent as a freshman. I detest and despise the procedural-over-conceptual philosophy underpinning the design and delivery of most Statistics courses, which are such missed opportunities to actually inculcate statistical literacy. $\endgroup$ – Ryan G Apr 20 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure how a mile wide and an inch deep is pound smart. $\endgroup$ – Rusty Core Apr 24 at 15:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.