Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Teaching category.

All that really important statistics stuff that isn’t in the statistics textbooks

Kaiser writes: More on that work on age adjustment. I keep asking myself where is it in the Stats curriculum do we teach students this stuff? A class session focused on that analysis teaches students so much more about statistical thinking than anything we have in the textbooks. I’m not sure. This sort of analysis […]

Should he major in political science and minor in statistics or the other way around?

Andrew Wheeler writes: I will be a freshman at the University of Florida this upcoming fall and I am interested in becoming a political pollster. My original question was whether I should major in political science and minor in statistics or the other way around, but any other general advice would be appreciated. My reply: […]

The difference between “significant” and “not significant” is not itself statistically significant: Education edition

In a news article entitled “Why smart kids shouldn’t use laptops in class,” Jeff Guo writes: For the past 15 years, educators have debated, exhaustively, the perils of laptops in the lecture hall. . . . Now there is an answer, thanks to a big, new experiment from economists at West Point, who randomly banned […]

Beautiful Graphs for Baseball Strike-Count Performance

This post is by Bob. I have no idea what Andrew will make of these graphs; I’ve been hoping to gather enough comments from him to code up a ggplot theme. Shravan, you can move along, there’s nothing here but baseball. Jim Albert created some great graphs for strike-count performance in a series of two […]

Happy talk, meet the Edlin factor

Mark Palko points us to this op-ed in which psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes: There are also easy and powerful ways to enhance learning in young people. For example, there is intriguing evidence that the attitude that young people have about their own intelligence — and what their teachers believe — can have a big impact […]

A new idea for a science core course based entirely on computer simulation

I happen to come across this post from 2011 that I like so much, I thought I’d say it again: Columbia College has for many years had a Core Curriculum, in which students read classics such as Plato (in translation) etc. A few years ago they created a Science core course. There was always some […]

Statistics is like basketball, or knitting

I had a recent exchange with a news reporter regarding one of those silly psychology studies. I took a look at the article in question—this time it wasn’t published in Psychological Science or PPNAS so it didn’t get saturation publicity—and indeed it was bad, laughably bad. They didn’t just have the garden of forking paths, […]

He wants to teach himself some statistics

Milan Griffes writes: I work at GiveWell, which you’ve kindly written about in the past. I wanted to ask for your current thoughts on the best way to learn statistics outside of formal education since it’s been a few years since your last post on this topic. Do you have any advice for someone with […]

Graphical Data Analysis with R

Graphical Data Analysis with R: that’s the title of Antony Unwin’s new book. Here are the chapter titles: Ch01 Setting the Scene Ch03 Examining continuous variables Ch04 Displaying Categorial Data Ch05 Looking for Structure Ch06 Investigating Multivariate Continuous Data Ch07 Studying Multivariate Categorical Data Ch08 Getting an Overview Ch09 Graphics and Data Quality Ch10 Comparisons […]

“What is Bayesian data analysis? Some examples”: My lecture at the New School this Wed noon

What is Bayesian data analysis? Some examples This is for their econ program, I think? I’ll demonstrate the three stages of Bayesian data analysis, going over examples such as the world cup analysis, the monster study, spell checking, the so-called global climate challenge, trends in death rates, . . . we’ll see how much time […]

Stat Podcast Plan

In my course on Statistical Communication and Graphics, each class had a special guest star who would answer questions on his or her area of expertise. These were not “guest lectures”—there were specific things I wanted the students to learn in this course, it wasn’t the kind of seminar where they just kick back each […]

My namesake doesn’t seem to understand the principles of decision analysis

It says “Never miss another deadline.” But if you really could never miss your deadlines, you’d just set your deadlines earlier, no? It’s statics vs. dynamics all over again. That said, this advice seems reasonable: The author has also developed a foolproof method of structuring your writing, so that you make effective use of your […]

McElreath’s Statistical Rethinking: A Bayesian Course with Examples in R and Stan

We’re not even halfway through with January, but the new year’s already rung in a new book with lots of Stan content: Richard McElreath (2016) Statistical Rethinking: A Bayesian Course with Examples in R and Stan. Chapman & Hall/CRC Press. This one got a thumbs up from the Stan team members who’ve read it, and […]

Street-Fighting Probability and Street-Fighting Stats: 2 One-Week Modules

In a comment to my previous post on the Street-Fighting Math course, Alex wrote: Have you thought about incorporating this material into more conventional classes? I can see this being very good material for a “principles” section of a linear modeling or other applied statistics course. It could give students a sense for how to […]

New course: Street-Fighting Math

I want to teach a course next year based on two books by Sanjoy Mahajan: Street-Fighting Mathematics and The Art of Insight in Science and Engineering. You can think of the two books as baby versions of Weisskopf’s 1969 classic, Modern Physics from an Elementary Point of View. Another book in the same vein is […]

Guess what today’s kids are clicking on: My presentation at the Electronic Conference on Teaching Statistics

Changing everything at once: Student-centered Learning, computerized practice exercises, evaluation of student progress, and a modern syllabus to create a completely new introductory statistics course Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics, Columbia University It should be possible to improve the much-despised introductory statistics course in several ways: (1) altering the classroom experience toward active learning, (2) […]

You’ll never believe what this girl wrote in her diary (NSFW)

Arber Tasimi heard about our statistics diaries and decided to try it out in the psychology class he was teaching. The students liked his class but a couple of them pushed back against the diaries, describing the assignment as pointless or unhelpful in their learning. This made me think that it may be that a […]

Benford lays down the Law

A few months ago I received in the mail a book called An Introduction to Benford’s Law by Arno Berger and Theodore Hill. I eagerly opened it but I lost interest once I realized it was essentially a pure math book. Not that there’s anything wrong with math, it just wasn’t what I wanted to […]

First, second, and third order bias corrections (also, my ugly R code for the mortality-rate graphs!)

As an applied statistician, I don’t do a lot of heavy math. I did prove a true theorem once (with the help of some collaborators), but that was nearly twenty years ago. Most of the time I walk along pretty familiar paths, just hoping that other people will do the mathematical work necessary for me […]

You won’t believe these stunning transformations: How to parameterize hyperpriors in hierarchical models?

Isaac Armstrong writes: I was working through your textbook “Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models” but wanted to learn more and started working through your “Bayesian Data Analysis” text. I’ve got a few questions about your rat tumor example that I’d like to ask. I’ve been trying to understand one of the hierarchical models […]