Questions tagged [teaching]

For questions about the teaching of probability and statistics, at any level.

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239
votes
11answers
165k views

How would you explain Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) to a layperson?

Maybe the concept, why it's used, and an example.
135
votes
15answers
112k views

Intuitive explanation for dividing by $n-1$ when calculating standard deviation?

I was asked today in class why you divide the sum of square error by $n-1$ instead of with $n$, when calculating the standard deviation. I said I am not going to answer it in class (since I didn't ...
119
votes
27answers
36k views

Free statistical textbooks

Are there any free statistical textbooks available?
114
votes
21answers
77k views

What's the difference between probability and statistics?

What's the difference between probability and statistics, and why are they studied together?
98
votes
26answers
40k views

Locating freely available data samples

I've been working on a new method for analyzing and parsing datasets to identify and isolate subgroups of a population without foreknowledge of any subgroup's characteristics. While the method works ...
74
votes
29answers
336k views

Examples for teaching: Correlation does not mean causation

There is an old saying: "Correlation does not mean causation". When I teach, I tend to use the following standard examples to illustrate this point: number of storks and birth rate in Denmark; number ...
60
votes
9answers
15k views

How to visualize what ANOVA does?

What way (ways?) is there to visually explain what is ANOVA? Any references, link(s) (R packages?) will be welcomed.
56
votes
8answers
6k views

Why continue to teach and use hypothesis testing (when confidence intervals are available)?

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, ...
52
votes
3answers
13k views

Why do we care so much about normally distributed error terms (and homoskedasticity) in linear regression when we don't have to?

I suppose I get frustrated every time I hear someone say that non-normality of residuals and /or heteroskedasticity violates OLS assumptions. To estimate parameters in an OLS model neither of these ...
43
votes
9answers
31k views

Tiny (real) datasets for giving examples in class?

When teaching an introductory level class, the teachers I know tend to invent some numbers and a story in order to exemplify the method they are teaching. What I would prefer is to tell a real story ...
41
votes
5answers
4k views

Good games for learning statistical thinking?

Are there any games that get the player "think like a statistician"? For example, lightbot gets you to "think like a programmer" (in a very basic way). Are there any games - designed for ...
36
votes
10answers
7k views

What is your favorite layman's explanation for a difficult statistical concept?

I really enjoy hearing simple explanations to complex problems. What is your favorite analogy or anecdote that explains a difficult statistical concept? My favorite is Murray's explanation of ...
34
votes
7answers
2k views

Why is it bad to teach students that p-values are the probability that findings are due to chance?

Can someone please offer a nice succinct explanation why it is not a good idea to teach students that a p-value is the prob(their findings are due to [random] chance). My understanding is that a p-...
33
votes
10answers
6k views

How to teach students who fear statistics?

I am about to help teach statistics to medical students this semester. I've heard many horror stories about the fear of these students from learning statistics. Can anyone suggest what to do with ...
32
votes
12answers
11k views

What is the hardest statistical concept to grasp?

This is a similar question to the one here, but different enough I think to be worthwhile asking. I thought I'd put as a starter, what I think one of the hardest to grasp is. Mine is the ...
32
votes
8answers
3k views

Should I teach Bayesian or frequentist statistics first?

I am helping my boys, currently in high school, understanding statistics, and I am considering beginning with some simple examples without disregarding some glimpses to theory. My goal would be to ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a Project Euler-alike for machine learning?

I found Project Euler http://projecteuler.net/ to be incredibly useful in learning programming languages. Is there a similar site for Machine Learning? I did see http://www.kaggle.com/, but it is not ...
30
votes
5answers
6k views

Strategies for teaching the sampling distribution

The tl;dr version What successful strategies do you employ to teach the sampling distribution (of a sample mean, for example) at an introductory undergraduate level? The background In September I'll ...
28
votes
4answers
4k views

Self study vs a taught education?

There is a question with similar intent on programmers.SE. That question has some quite good answers, but the general theme seems to be that without self study, you get no-where. Obviously there are ...
22
votes
2answers
629 views

Good online resource with tips on graphing association between two numeric variables under various conditions

Context: Over the while I've acquired a set of heuristics on how to effectively plot the association between two numeric variables. I imagine most people who work with data would have a similar set ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Suggestions for improving a probability and statistics cheat sheet

Context: In an effort to structure the center pieces that I have came across in probability theory and statics, I created a reference document focussing on the mathematical essentials (available here)...
20
votes
12answers
122k views

Real life examples of distributions with negative skewness

Inspired by "real-life examples of common distributions", I wonder what pedagogical examples people use to demonstrate negative skewness? There are many "canonical" examples of symmetric or normal ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

What should be taught first: Probability or Statistics?

I have newly joined as a faculty member in a math dept. of a reputed institution. I will be teaching the course Probability and Statistics at the undergraduate level. The institution already has a ...
18
votes
6answers
645 views

How to explain hypothesis testing for teenagers in less than 10 minutes?

For over a year now I've been giving a one-hour "a taste for statistics" class. Each time I get a different group of kids coming over, and I give them the class. The theme of the class is that we run ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Learning statistical concepts through data analysis exercises

I find that simple data analysis exercises can often help to illustrate and clarify statistical concepts. What data analysis exercises do you use to teach statistical concepts?
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Should we teach kurtosis in an applied statistics course? If so, how?

Central tendency, spread and skewness can all be defined relatively well, at least on an intuitive basis; the standard mathematical measures of these things also correspond relatively well to our ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

Explaining two-tailed tests

I am looking for various ways of explaining to my students (in an elementary statistics course) what is a two tailed test, and how its P value is calculated. How do you explain to your students the ...
16
votes
2answers
17k views

Why is the standard deviation defined as sqrt of the variance and not as the sqrt of sum of squares over N?

Today I taught an introductory class of statistics and a student came up to me with a question, which I rephrase here as: "Why is the standard deviation defined as sqrt of variance and not as the sqrt ...
15
votes
5answers
811 views

Why do US and UK Schools Teach Different methods of Calculating the Standard Deviation?

As I understand UK Schools teach that the Standard Deviation is found using: whereas US Schools teach: (at a basic level anyway). This has caused a number of my students problems in the past as ...
15
votes
8answers
32k views

Any suggestions for a good undergraduate introductory textbook to statistics?

I am hoping you can give me some suggestions. I am teaching in a very diverse (made of minority groups) college and the students are mostly Psychology majors. Most students are fresh from high school ...
15
votes
11answers
3k views

Examples of processes that are not Poisson?

I am looking for some good examples of situations that are ill-suited to model with a Poisson distribution, to help me explain the Poisson distribution to students. One commonly uses the number of ...
15
votes
3answers
10k views

How to best display graphically type II (beta) error, power and sample size?

I'm asked to write an introduction to statistics and I'm struggling how to graphically show the way p-value and power relate. I've come up with this graph: My question: Is there a better way of ...
15
votes
4answers
22k views

Why do we say the outcome variable “is regressed on” the predictor(s)?

Is there some intuitive explanation for this terminology? Why is it this way, and not the predictor(s) being regressed on the outcome? Ideally I'm hoping that a proper explanation of why this ...
15
votes
8answers
810 views

How to NOT use statistics

This is sort of an open ended question but I wanna be clear. Given a sufficient population you might be able to learn something (this is the open part) but whatever you learn about your population, ...
15
votes
3answers
496 views

What's a good approach to teaching R in a computer lab?

There have been several good questions and sets of answers on introductory books or approaches to learning R eg here and here. But I have a slightly different problem - the best way to run an hour ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

What are the pros and cons of learning about a distribution algorithmically (simulations) versus mathematically?

What are the pros and cons of learning about a distribution's properties algorithmically (via computer simulations) versus mathematically? It seems like computer simulations can be an alternative ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Sequential hypothesis testing in basic science

I'm a pharmacologist and, in my experience, almost all papers in basic biomedical research use Student's t-test (either to support inference or to conform to expectations...). A couple of years ago it ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

What can one tell a school kid about statistics and machine learning?

Next week we have an intern from a local school in the house. The concept behind his short internship is to get an idea how the real world works and what certain jobs deal with, how the daily work ...
14
votes
5answers
976 views

Software (or webapps) for teaching kids statistics or probability?

I would like (in the distant future) to teach statistics to kids. For that matter, I'd be happy to know of software (obviously I am tending towards FOSS), or webapps, that are helpful in explaining ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Short online videos that could assist a lecture on statistics

When lecturing statistics, it can be useful to incorporate the occasional short video. My first thoughts included: Animations and visualisations of statistical concepts Stories regarding the ...
13
votes
4answers
13k views

Where to find raw data about clinical trials? [closed]

I wish to use raw data about clinical trials for the end year examination of my master students. These data could deal with any kind of molecule as long as the trials were complete (Phase 1 to 4). Do ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Online resources for learning statistics, exercises (with solutions)?

I'm currently working as a teaching assistant at my university, in an introductory statistics course (for medical students). Offline, there are many books available with information to aid the ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Funny statistics exam answers [closed]

Correcting exams is probably the most boring task of a teacher. But it might be amusing for us to collect funny statistics exam answers. One entry per answer.
13
votes
1answer
923 views

An intuitive explanation why the Benjamini-Hochberg FDR procedure works?

Is there a simple way of explaining why does Benjamini and Hochberg's (1995) procedure actually control the false discovery rate (FDR)? This procedure is so elegant and compact and yet the proof of ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Is linear regression obsolete? [closed]

I am currently in a linear regression class, but I can't shake the feeling that what I am learning is no longer relevant in either modern statistics or machine learning. Why is so much time spent on ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Explaining quantile regression to nonstatisticians

I recently submitted a paper, in which I used quantile regression, to a psychology journal. Although I thought I had already put enough thought in a clear exposition of quantile regression, the ...
12
votes
4answers
346 views

References for consulting statisticians to offer their clients

This question illustrates the difficulty of a person mastering statistics and probability on their own, in the face of weakly developed resources like Wikipedia. It occurred to me that consulting ...
11
votes
6answers
7k views

What is your favorite problem for an introduction to probability?

I like introducing probability by discussing the Boy or Girl or Bertrand paradox. What other (short) problem/game provides a motivating introduction to probability? (One answer per response, please) ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

Which statistical software is suitable for teaching an undergraduate introductory course of statistics in social sciences?

I am looking for a statistical software package which I can use in an introductory course of statistics for a social science study programme. The students have no prior knowledge of statistics and no ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Good text on Clinical Trials?

I'm an undergraduate statistics student looking for a good treatment of clinical trials analysis. The text should cover the fundamentals of experimental design, blocking, power analysis, latin squares ...