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Archive of posts filed under the Teaching category.

“Academics should be made accountable for exaggerations in press releases about their own work”

Fernando Martel Garcia points me to this news article by Ben Goldacre: For anyone with medical training, mainstream media coverage of science can be an uncomfortable read. It is common to find correlational findings misrepresented as denoting causation, for example, or findings in animal studies confidently exaggerated to make claims about treatment for humans. But […]

Statistical Significance – Significant Problem?

John Carlin, who’s collaborated on some of my recent work on Type S and Type M errors, prepared this presentation for a clinical audience. It might be of interest to some of you. The ideas and some of the examples should be familiar to regular readers of this blog, but it could be useful to […]

“Peer assessment enhances student learning”

Dennis Sun, Naftali Harris, Guenther Walther, and Michael Baiocchi write: Peer assessment has received attention lately as a way of providing personalized feedback that scales to large classes. . . . By conducting a randomized controlled trial in an introductory statistics class, we provide evidence that peer assessment causes significant gains in student achievement. The […]

Discussion with Steven Pinker connecting cognitive psychology research to the difficulties of writing

Following up on my discussion of Steven Pinker’s writing advice, Pinker and I had an email exchange that cleared up some issues and raised some new ones. In particular, Pinker made a connection between the difficulty of writing and some research findings in cognitive psychology. I think this connection is really cool—I’ve been thinking and […]

Why I keep talking about “generalizing from sample to population”

Someone publishes some claim, some statistical comparison with “p less than .05″ attached to it. My response is: OK, you see this pattern in the sample. Do you think it holds in the population? Why do I ask this? Why don’t I ask the more standard question: Do you really think this result is statistically […]

Documenting a class-participation activity

Tian Zheng implemented my candies demo using Legos: Also lots of details on the results. The point here is not exactly what happened (but, yes, the demo did work) but rather the idea that you can use photos and graphs to document what worked in class. We should be able to do this sort of […]

Six quick tips to improve your regression modeling

It’s Appendix A of ARM: A.1. Fit many models Think of a series of models, starting with the too-simple and continuing through to the hopelessly messy. Generally it’s a good idea to start simple. Or start complex if you’d like, but prepare to quickly drop things out and move to the simpler model to help […]

First day of class update

I got to class on time. The class went ok but I spent too much time talking, which is what happens when I don’t put a lot of effort ahead of time into making sure I don’t spend too much time talking. My first-day-of-class activity was ok but I think I needed another activity for […]

Just in case

Hi, R. Could you please prepare 50 handouts of the attached draft course plan (2-sided printing is fine) to hand out to students? I prefer to do this online but it sounds like there’s some difficulty with that, so we can do handouts on this first day of class. Also: My Amtrak is rescheduled and […]

The (hypothetical) phase diagram of a statistical or computational method

So here’s the deal. You have a new idea, call it method C, and you try it out on problems X, Y, and Z and it works well—it destroys the existing methods A and B. And then you publish a paper with the pithy title, Method C Wins. And, hey, since we’re fantasizing here anyway, […]

Tell me what you don’t know

We’ll ask an expert, or even a student, to “tell me what you know” about some topic. But now I’m thinking it makes more sense to ask people to tell us what they don’t know. Why? Consider your understanding of a particular topic to be divided into three parts: 1. What you know. 2. What […]

“What then should we teach about hypothesis testing?”

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes in: Last week, I was looking forward to a blog post titled “Why continue to teach and use hypothesis testing?” I presume that this scheduled post merely became preempted by more timely posts. But I am still interested in reading the exchange that will follow. My feeling is […]

Plans for reboot of Statistical Communication class

At the end of my course on Statistical Communication and Graphics last semester, I enlisted some of the students to help plan for the new version of the course (which starts next week). I took a bunch of notes on the blackboard and then a student took pictures for me. I had the idea that […]

Workshop on science communication for graduate students

Nathan Sanders writes:

Planning my class for this semester: Thinking aloud about how to move toward active learning?

I’m teaching two classes this semester: – Design and Analysis of Sample Surveys (in the political science department, but the course has lots of statistics content); – Statistical Communication and Graphics (in the statistics department, but last time I taught it, many of the students were from other fields). I’ve taught both classes before. I […]

What to do in 2015: Your statistics diary

For the last two weeks of our class on statistical communication, I gave my students the following assignment: Every day, you will write an entry in your statistics diary. Just set up a text or Word file and add to it each day. The diary entries can be anything. They can be short slice-of-life observations […]

“Why continue to teach and use hypothesis testing?”

Greg Werbin points us to an online discussion of the following question: Why continue to teach and use hypothesis testing (with all its difficult concepts and which are among the most statistical sins) for problems where there is an interval estimator (confidence, bootstrap, credibility or whatever)? What is the best explanation (if any) to be […]

What to think about in 2015: How can the principles of statistical quality control be applied to statistics education

Happy new year! A few years ago, Eric Loken and I wrote, Statisticians: When we teach, we don’t practice what we preach: As statisticians, we give firm guidance in our consulting and research on the virtues of random sampling, randomized treatment assignments, valid and reliable measurements, and clear specification of the statistical procedures that will […]

I’m sure that my anti-Polya attitude is completely unfair

Reading this post in which Mark Palko quotes from the classic “How to Solve It” by the legendary mathematician and math educator George Polya, I was reminded of my decades-long aversion to Polya, an attitude that might seem odd given that (a) Polya has an excellent reputation, and (b) I’ve never read more than a […]

Common sense and statistics

John Cook writes: Some physicists say that you should always have an order-of-magnitude idea of what a result will be before you calculate it. This implies a belief that such estimates are usually possible, and that they provide a sanity check for calculations. And that’s true in physics, at least in mechanics. In probability, however, […]