# Questions tagged [teaching]

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

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165k views

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

Maybe the concept, why it's used, and an example.
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 ...
36k views

### Free statistical textbooks

Are there any free statistical textbooks available?
77k views

### What's the difference between probability and statistics?

What's the difference between probability and statistics, and why are they studied together?
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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, ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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-...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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)...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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?
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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) ...