This page brings together and organises most of the posts to date so you can find what you are looking for. Enjoy! You can also use the search facility to find the topic of your interest.

# Learning ideas for students of statistics

- How to study statistics (Part 1) – five principles for students studying statistics (9 Sept 13)
- How to learn statistics (Part 2) – seven more principles (16 Sept 13)

# Teaching ideas specific to statistics and operations research

- 20 ways to improve as a teacher of statistics (Part 1) – advice to teachers of statistics, who may be getting a bit complacent (31 August 2015)
- The nature of mathematics and statistics and what it means to learn and teach them – a reflection piece on the nature of our discipline (6 September 2016)
- Statistics and chocolate – nifty and effective teaching idea for getting across the idea of evidence with respect to probability
- Context – if it isn’t fun… – Why context is so important in the teaching of statistics (1 April 13)
- Teaching sampling with dragon data cards – how data cards help students to understand the ideas of sample, population and sampling. (23 June 2016)
- Drill and Rote in teaching LP and Hypothesis Testing – students need well-designed repetitive practice to develop understanding and proficiency
- Statistical muscle memory – further suggestions on the importance of lots of practice (and how our Statistics Learning Centre materials can help.)
- Divide and destroy in statistics teaching – I advocate for holistic thinking in the teaching of statistics and mathematics (9 March 2015)
- Question questions – a checklist – are your questions achieving the desired result?
- Rounding is about communication – why rounding is important and a different way to approach it
- Teaching statistical language – how I didn’t get a free iPad
- Statistical Misconception Removal – we need to attack wrong ideas before building new knowledge on top of them
- Teaching how to know which test to use – Includes a link to video and organising diagram (17 Dec 12)
- Teaching a service course in statistics – Some things to think about when facing this unappealing task (6 May 13)
- Difficult concepts in statistics – Five ideas to help teach difficult concepts (24 June 13)
- Teach students to learn to fish – Levels of instruction – teach how to learn new statistical tests and concepts. (24 Feb 2014)
- The Silent Dog – null results matter too – Points out that students need to know that a null result is still a result. (17 March 2014)
- A helpful structure for analysing graphs – gives a brief overview of OSEM (23 April 2014)

## Computer packages and programs

- Excel, SPSS, Minitab or R? – It depends on your class. Some great discussion from readers on this post. (11 Feb 13)
- Excel in Statistics and Operations Research – why and how the spreadsheet can revolutionize teaching in our disciplines
- Beware of Excel Histograms – I love Excel and use it all the time, but the histograms are a disgrace. Includes a pdf of how to make decent enough histograms using Excel.

## Data considerations

- Giving students dirty data – why you should, and how students can clean it
- Stop faking it! Data should be real. – why and how to use real data for teaching (Written some time before the next post, which addresses the problems of finding good real data.)
- A dearth of raw data – It is not as easy as it sounds to find good data for students to learn on. (3 June 13)
- Teaching with School League tables – You can inform students about the effect of demographics on attainment, while using real-life data. (12 Aug 13)
- Engaging students in learning statistics using The Islands – one soluton to the problem of finding real data and teaching the sampling process. (27 July 2015)
- Data for teaching – real, fake, fictional – where I introduce Dragonistics data cards and make a case for their use, along with the Islands (16 Feb 2016)

## Teaching Report-Writing

- Teaching statistical report-writing – the how and the why. (13 May 13)
- Templates for statistical reports – spoon-feeding? – This is a highly “searched -for” post. Writing up statistics is difficult. People need help.
- The Importance of Titles – ideas for teaching and grading statistical reports
- Framework for statistical report-writing – Incorporates a very useful diagram for diagnosing weaknesses in report-writing skills. (10 June 2015)

## Time Series Analysis and Forecasting

- Teaching Time Series with limited computer access – gives ideas and handouts (10 Dec12)
- Statistical Story-telling with time series data – includes videos for introduction to time series and forecasting (20 Feb 13)

## Confidence Intervals

- Confidence intervals, informal, traditional, bootstrap – The underlying concept of inference, with videos (18 March 13)
- Good, Bad and Wrong: Videos about Confidence Intervals – A critique of ten YouTube confidence interval videos, with an explanation of their flaws and qualities (15 April 13)
- The importance of being wrong – helping students to internalise the idea that it is possible for a confidence interval exclude the population parameter estimated. (19 August 13)
- Teaching confidence intervals – what really matters and it isn’t being able to calculate. (31 March 2014)

# Polemic

- Khan Academy Statistics videos are not good – an analysis of good and bad points, and why Khan Academy gets a fail from me. Links to other critiques and videos. (Please read before commenting!)
- Open Letter to Khan Academy about Basic Probability – sadly it was ignored. (2 Sept 13)
- Statistics Textbooks suck out all the fun. – what is so wrong with current statistics textbooks
- Beware of Excel Histograms – I love Excel and use it all the time, but the histograms are a disgrace. Includes a pdf of how to make decent enough histograms using Excel.
- Forget algebra – is Statistics necessary? – the Correct H. G. Wells quote, and why statistics is more necessary for an efficient citizen than algebra
- Those who can, teach statistics – A tribute to the noble profession of teaching. (30 Sept 13)
- Teachers and resource providers – uneasy bedfellows – why it is important for teachers to work with resource provders (18 July 2016)

# Opinion pieces (not controversial enough to class as polemic)

- A Statistics-centric curriculum – Builds on the Ted talk byArthur Benjamin suggesting that calculus is the wrong summit of the pyramid (6 Oct 2014)
- Make journalists learn statistics – Obviously! (28 Jan 2013)
- Protectionism vs empowerment in the teaching of statistics – How fastidious are you? (4 Feb 2013)
- Shibboleth, Mixolydian, Heteroscedasticity – and Kipling – Using language to communicate, not obscure (4 March 13)
- Should students calculate? – some should and some should not. Depends on the class and the purpose.
- Which comes first – problem or solution? – Sometimes the solution needs to precede the problem. (8 April 13)
- Textbooks and horseless carriages – electronic textbooks are no more use than paper textbooks.
- Is statistical enquiry a cycle? – This is particularly relevant to NZ teachers. (22 April 13)
- All models are wrong – yet somehow economists think they are right!
- Guest Blog: Avoid Applicable Math – some applications are far too contrived. If it isn’t real, don’t pretend it is

## Ethical issues in teaching statistics

- Probability and Deity – When we teach about probability we need to consider our impact on students. (27 May 13)
- Lies and statistics – subjectivity abounds in statistics. We need to teach ethically.

# Curriculum controversies (particularly relevant for NZ Maths and Stats teachers)

- Why resampling is better than hypothesis tests and confidence intervals – the New Zealand High School curriculum is moving to bootstrapping and randomisation for good reasons. How long before the rest of the world catches up?
- The Central Limit Theorem: To teach or not to teach – sometimes we just have to let go and move on. And sometimes we need to keep teaching it.
- Teaching experimental design – why and how of teaching this interesting topic to develop understanding of variation

## The relationship between mathematics and statistics

- Hey mathematics – leave the stats alone! – why a different mindset is needed for mathematics teachers to teach statistics well
- What Mathematics teachers need to know about statistics – the key ideas are chance, data and evidence
- Statistics is not beautiful (sniff) – Introduces the idea that statistics is to mathematics, what literature is to English language. (26 August 13)
- Enriching mathematics with statistics – ways to incorporate statistics within other aspects of mathematics, such as fractions, measurement and area (14 July 2016)

# About the subject of statistics

- Statistics is an interesting subject – really! – ideas for helping people realise how interesting the discipline of statistics really is
- Judgment Calls in Statistics and O.R. – embrace the fuzziness!
- Statistics or Calculus? Do both! – Advice for senior students about the relative merits of statistics and calculus for future use. (21 Jan 13)
- Why engineers and poets need to know about statistics – Elements of the subject of statistics that many people need to understand. (17 June 13)
- Statistics – Singular and Plural, Lies and Truth – Statistics as data, statistics as analysis and statistics as information. (6 Jan 2014)

# Statistical concepts

- Oh Ordinal data, what do we do with you? – This is a very popular post explaining at a simple level, the dilemma of summarising ordinal data. (8 July 13)
- Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, Schmordinal – the different types of data, and why it matters. (19 Nov 2014)
- The meaning of the mean – it is trickier than you think
- The median outclasses the mean – A look at the pros and cons of means and medians – with some very helpful reader comments (29 April 13)
- Summarising with Box and Whisker Plots – links to three useful videos (6 October 2015)
- Which type of error do you prefer? – storm warnings and cancer screening – type I and type II errors.
- It is so random! Or is it? The meaning of randomness – Addressing the popular meaning of random, compared with the statistical meaning. (25 June 2014)
- Reading graphs can be tricky – particularly the difference between a value graph and a frequency graph
- There’s more to reading graphs than meets the eye – Reading about the graph, reading off the graph, within the graph, beyond the graph. (9 May 2016)
- Interpreting Scatterplots – things to look for and how to help students learn (25 Feb 13)
- Understanding Statistical Inference – breaks down the three main ideas of inference, leading to a helpful video (9 November 2015)
- Significance – a very important concept. Common confusion, and link to a helpful video. Picture of a p-machine.
- The myth of random sampling – though we assume simple random samples, the reality is that we usually have to make do with what we have.
- Sampling Error Isn’t – common misunderstandings about sampling error, and links to a useful video
- Sampling Error and non-sampling error – What these terms mean, and how to identify sources of non-sampling error. (There is only one source of sampling error.) (4 Sept 2014)
- Uncertainty, luck and control – sources of probability estimates
- Seductive Causation – the concept of causation vs correlation is extremely important, yet difficult to teach
- Proving causation – how randomisation makes statements of causation more supportable. (21 Oct 13)

# Statistical concepts – probability

- Introducing Probability – Using a modelling approach from the start. (23 May 2014)
- Conceptualising Probability – This lightly philosophical post was brought on by a close encounter with the NZ curriculum. (22 July 13)
- Let’s hear it for the Triangular Distribution! – A little known distribution can provide some excellent learning opportunities. (And a photo of Dr Nic on the set of Sesame Street.) (29 July 13)
- Probability, Perception and False Positives – evaluation of risk and the need for doctors to be better at it (5 Nov 2012)
- Absolute and Relative Risk – Why baseline information should always accompany statements of increase in risk. (7 Oct 13)
- A sensitive approach to risk and screening – Being aware of the human aspects of screening. (16 January 2015)
- Teaching random variables and distributions – The idea of a random variable is tricky. Ways to approach this. (18 August 2014)
- Deterministic and Probabilistic models and thinking – Particularly relevant to the NZ curriculum. (16 Dec 13)
- The normal distribution – three tricky bits – breaks down possible obstacles to understanding the nature of the normal distribution (18 January 2016)

# About teaching in general

- The Knife-edge of Competence – Sometimes we have only a tenuous grip on the curriculum, but we can still make it. (15 July 2013)
- Why learning objectives are so important – Includes an explanation of learning objectives, and some examples. (1 July 2013)
- Twitter for educators – A great source of professional support and development (11 March 2013)
- You’re teaching it wrong! – if the students get something wrong all the time, you are probably teaching it wrong. Suggestions on how to improve.
- Pedagogical Content Knowledge – what is it, and how to develop it. (20 May 13)
- Anxiety, fear and antipathy for maths, stats and OR – perseverance, relevance, borrowed self-efficacy and love!
- The Golden Rule doesn’t apply to teaching – We should not always teach the way we would like to be taught.
- The Sound of Music meets Linear Programming: Don’t always start at the beginning. Sometimes we need to see our destination before we begin.
- A picture is worth… – how diagrams can help understanding
- No more lectures! – links to several articles on substitutes for lectures in education
- Guest Blog #2: Credit for Turning Up? – do we really need to reward students for turning up to class?
- Optimal instruction in Statistics and Operations Research – is there a “best” way to teach something or someone?
- Assessment – a necessary evil. Marking/Grading is difficult, often unpleasant and extremely important. (14 Jan 13)
- Less is More – Keeping it simple with regard to teaching. We can’t teach all we know. (25 March 13)
- The flipped classroom – Explaining the ideas behind the flipped classroom, and how it may be able to help teaching and learning. (10 June 13)
- Parts and whole – The role of practice of parts of processes and whole processes. (5 August 13)
- Mathematics teaching Rockstar – Jo Boaler – an introduction to the work of the person who brought you Mathematical Mindsets (25 July 2016)

# Operations Research specific

- Operations Research and Statistics: BFF – the common challenges in teaching mathematical sciences
- Teaching Operations Research with food – lightweight, early post

# Other – doesn’t really fit any category, but interesting

- Analysis of “Deal or No Deal” results – A fascinating data set you can use for teaching, and some interesting results. (18 Nov 13)
- I am many numbers – a discussion on the role of numbers in defining who we are. Would work well in class.
- Effective multimedia teaching videos – some hints on making videos that work, based on educational research
- On-line learning and teaching resources – how we use them (23 Sept 2013)
- Careers Advice in Mathematical Sciences – we need to do a better job of this
- About blogging – why I do it – the 100th post. (4 November 2013)

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