Top Tips for Teaching Statistics
All those numbers just sitting on the page are pretty
Hi, I’m Ben Owens, math educator at the University of North Texas. I’m here for About.com, to give you tips for teaching statistics. Statistics is a great topic to teach because you can involve your students in many ways. For example, you can let your students create their own survey, on any topic they’re interested in. Then, they conduct the survey with their classmates, note down the results of the survey, and calculate statistics (median, mean) from the results. As you can see, statistics is a great topic to apply to real-life situations. So, if you have students who are very passionate about sports, let them compile home run statistics for their favorite baseball players, for example. It lets them work on something they’re actually interested in, while learning the basics of statistics. You can also give your students an assignment of picking an article from newspapers, magazines or academic journals that have statistical data - say an article on cancer research with statistical numbers. Let them analyze the data and write down their findings. To make students learn from each other, and get some interaction: ask them to present their findings in a short presentation, or let them talk about the results in small groups. And you can also give them some fun homework. Let them play an educational online game like this one, which lets students create a table of data they collect from onscreen characters. Students have to select a scatter plot, a line graph, a histogram or a pie chart. With older students I like to give them a huge data set with a thousand data point at the beginning of the year and ask them to “describe” it. All those numbers just sitting on the page are pretty intimidating. After a minute or so I introduce descriptive statistics as a way to organize, summarize and make sense out of this crazy mess! For more videos on education, visit our website at education.about.com. Thanks for watching!