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Volume 3, Number 3 (November 1995) ISSN: 1069-1898

Jim Albert, "Teaching Inference About Proportions Using Bayes and Discrete Models" (64K)

Teaching elementary statistical inference from a traditional viewpoint can be hard, due to the difficulty in teaching sampling distributions and the correct interpretation of statistical confidence. Bayesian methods have the attractive feature that statistical conclusions can be stated using the language of subjective probability. Simple methods of teaching Bayes' rule are described, and these methods are illustrated for inference and prediction problems for one and two proportions. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and Bayesian approaches in teaching inference and give texts that provide examples and software for implementing Bayesian methods in an elementary class. --JA

Key Words: Baseball; Bayes' rule; Conditional probability; Prediction; Prior distribution.

Christopher Ferrall, "Interactive Statistics Tutorials in Stata" (33K)

This paper discusses a set of programs written in the statistical package Stata that is designed to support interactive student tutorials. The tutorial package has several desirable features, including customized tutorials, full student interaction, checking of student answers, repetition of practice problems using randomly chosen values, and a simple way to gauge student comprehension even when students run the tutorials at home. As an example, a tutorial used in an undergraduate econometrics class is discussed. The example illustrates Monte Carlo experiments on the linear regression model that allow students to demonstrate the validity of various formulas for the sampling distribution of ordinary least squares estimators. --CF

Key Words: Teaching aids; Econometrics; Monte Carlo experiments.

Sue Gordon, "A Theoretical Approach to Understanding Learners of Statistics" (66K)

This paper provides examples of students' reflections on learning statistics. The Mathematics Learning Centre, where I teach, offers help to students experiencing difficulty with basic mathematics and statistics courses at university. The excerpts are drawn from surveys or interviews of these and other students studying statistics at the University of Sydney. Activity theory, which is based on the work of Vygotsky, provides a helpful conceptual model for investigating learning at the university level. From the perspective of activity theory, learning is viewed as a mediated activity in a sociohistorical context. In particular, the way a student monitors and controls the ongoing cognitive activity depends on how that individual reflects on his or her efforts and evaluates success. In Semenov's words, ``Thought must be seen as a cognitive activity that involves the whole person'' (1978, p. 5). Students' interpretations of their learning tasks and the educational goals for their self-development are discussed within this theoretical framework. --SG

Key Words: Activity theory; Adult learners; Goals of learners; Experiences; Perceptions of context; Goals of statistics education.

R. Kirk Steinhorst and Carolyn M. Keeler, "Developing Material for Introductory Statistics Courses from a Conceptual, Active Learning Viewpoint" (38K)

For traditionally trained statistics teachers, developing active learning material is difficult. We present representative active learning materials that we have used over the last several years. We also give examples of exam questions that we have used to test conceptual understanding gained through the class exercises. --RKS

Key Words: Conceptual learning; Authentic assessment.

Teaching Bits: A Resource for Teachers of Statistics (30K)

This column features "bits" of information sampled from a variety of sources that may be of interest to teachers of statistics. Joan Garfield abstracts information from the literature on teaching and learning statistics, while Laurie Snell summarizes articles from the news and other media that may be used with students to provoke discussions or serve as a basis for classroom activities or student projects. --JG

Robert J. MacG. Dawson, "The `Unusual Episode' Data Revisited" (26K)

A certain dataset, giving population at risk and fatalities for ``an unusual episode,'' has been used for some time in classrooms as an elementary exercise in statistical thinking, the challenge being to deduce the context of the data. Unfortunately, the ``solution'' has frequently been circulated orally, with few details. Moreover, discrepancies have been found between the dataset and the ``solution,'' which would render the exercise somewhat artificial. This paper investigates the discrepancies and includes a fully-explained version of the dataset for classroom use. --RJMD

Key Words: Elementary statistics teaching; Categorical datasets; Survival data; Classroom exercises.

Editorial Board for Volume 3, Number 3

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