5 April 2018

Statistical software for worried students

Statistical software for worried students: Appearances matter Let’s be honest. Most students of statistics are taking statistics because they have to. I asked my class of 100 business students who choose to take the quantitative methods course if they did not have to. Two hands went up. Face it – statistics is necessary but not often embraced. But actually it is worse than that. For many people statistics is the most dreaded course they are required to take. It can be the barrier to achieving their career goals as a psychologist, marketer or physician. (And it should be required for many other […]
6 May 2013

Teaching a service course in statistics

Teaching a service course in statistics Most students who enrol in an initial course in statistics at university level do so because they have to. I did some research on attitudes to statistics in my entry level quantitative methods course, and fewer than 1% of the students had chosen to be in that course. This is a little demoralising, if you happen to think that statistics is worthwhile and interesting. Teaching a service course in statistics is one of the great challenges of teaching. A “Service Course” is a course in statistics for students who are majoring in some other […]
18 March 2013

Confidence Intervals: informal, traditional, bootstrap

Confidence Intervals Confidence intervals are needed because there is variation in the world. Nearly all natural, human or technological processes result in outputs which vary to a greater or lesser extent. Examples of this are people’s heights, students’ scores in a well written test and weights of loaves of bread. Sometimes our inability or lack of desire to measure something down to the last microgram will leave us thinking that there is no variation, but it is there. For example we would check the weights of chocolate bars to the nearest gram, and may well find that there is no […]
20 February 2013

Statistical Story-telling with time series data

Statistics is about story-telling. For people who understand them, graphs tell a story. To the initiated, even a p-value, and some summary statistics can help to tell a story. Part of the role of a statistician is to extract the story from the data. The role of a statistics teacher is to enable students first to recognise that there is a story, then to enable them to tell the story through the tools of analysis and communication. This idea of statistics as story-telling is explained in an award-winning paper byPfannkuch, Regan, Wild and Horton,Telling Data Stories: Essential Dialogues for Comparative […]
11 February 2013

Excel, SPSS, Minitab or R?

I often hear this question: Should I use Excel to teach my class? Or should I use R? Which package is the best? Update in April 2018: I have written a further post, covering other aspects and other packages. It depends on the class The short answer is: It depends on your class. You have to ask yourself, what are the attitudes, skills and knowledge that you wish the students to gain in the course. What is it that you want them to feel and do and understand? If the students are never likely to do any more statistics, what […]