3 September 2012

What Mathematics teachers need to know about statistics

My post suggesting that statistics is more vital for efficient citizens than algebra has led to some interesting discussions on Twitter and elsewhere. Currently I am beginning an exciting venture to provide support materials for teachers and students of statistics, starting with New Zealand. These two circumstances have led me to ponder about why maths teachers think that statistics is a subset of mathematics, and what knowledge and attitudes will help them make the transition to teaching statistics as a subject. An earlier post called for mathematics to leave statistics alone. This post builds on that by providing some ways […]
16 July 2012

Reading graphs can be tricky

For many people, a graph is not obvious. Let me illustrate: Here are two graphs showing the results from two classes of students in some mythical test out of 10. Have a look at them and decide which one shows more variation. I won’t embarrass you by asking which one you chose. Actually I might. Try not to look at the answer before you answer this. I’ll put a pretty picture that you will have to scroll past to help you not cheat. The answer is that Class A shows more variation. This is little counter-intuitive as Class A is […]
15 May 2012

Excel in Statistics and Operations Research

I love spreadsheets The spreadsheet package is a wondrous thing. It has revolutionized a great many processes in the office, home and scientific research. It has affected the way we think and teach. It has enabled many more people to program and to build models, without even knowing it (and sometimes very badly). And, for better or worse, Excel has become the default spreadsheet package. I love spreadsheets and I love Excel.  I first became acquainted with Multiplan and Lotus-123 in 1984 as part of my graduate degree. It was amazing to see how versatile these spreadsheets were. Since then […]