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Lecture/Presentation

  • An important idea in statistics is that the amount of data matters. We often teach this with formulas --- the standard error of the mean, the t-statistic, etc. --- in which the sample size appears in a denominator as √n. This is fine, so far as it goes, but it often fails to connect with a student's intuition. In this presentation, I'll describe a kinesthetic learning activity --- literally a random walk --- that helps drive home to students why more data is better and why the square-root arises naturally and can be understood by simple geometry. Students remember this activity and its lesson long after they have forgotten the formulas from their statistics class.

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  • August 25, 2009 Activity webinar presented by Michelle Everson, University of Minnesota and hosted by Leigh Slauson, Capital University. In a classroom setting, students can engage in hands-on activities in order to better understand certain concepts and ideas. Replicating hands-on activities in an online environment, however, can be a challenge for instructors. The purpose of this webinar is to present an applet that was created to replicate a "Post-it Note" activity commonly used in classroom sections of an undergraduate introductory statistics course at University of Minnesota. The Post-it Note activity is meant to help students develop a more conceptual understanding of the mean and the median by moving a set of Post-it Notes along a number line. During the webinar, participants have an opportunity to see and experience just how online students are able to interact with an applet named the "Sticky Centers" applet, and the webinar presents the kinds of materials and assignments that have been created to use in conjunction with this applet. The webinar ends with a preview of a newer applet that is being developed in order to replicate the famous "Gummy Bears in Space" activity (presented in Schaeffer, Gnanadesikan, Watkins & Witmer, 1996). A supplemental student handout is available for download free of charge.
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  • Many of us, while teaching an introductory statistics course, have mentioned some of the history behind the methodology, perhaps just in passing. We might remark that an English chap by the name of R. A. Fisher is responsible for a great deal of the course content. We could further point out that the statistical techniques used in research today were developed within the last century, for the most part. At most, we might reveal the identity of the mysterious "Student" when introducing the t-test to our class. I propose that we do more of this. This webinar will highlight some opportunities to give brief history lessons while teaching an introductory statistics course.

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  • A highly trained mathematical statistician without knowledge of the subject can be quite as dangerous as a subject-matter specialist trying to use statistical methods of which he has little knowledge. This is a quote of American Economist and Statistician Aryness Joy Wickens (1901 - 1991). The quote is from her Presidential Address to the American Statistical Association at the 112th annual meeting on December 28, 1952. The full address is reprinted in "JASA" v. 48 p. 1-14. (picture from LIFE magazine; copyright by Time, Inc. for non-commercial use only)
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  • The true method of knowledge is experiment. This is a quote of British poet and artist William Blake (1857 - 1827). The quote is found in his 1788 book "All religions are one".
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  • This song is an ode to bad teaching in statistics written by Dennis Pearl to be sung to the tune of Roger Miller's 1965 classic country/pop tune "King of the Road." Musical accompaniment realization and vocals are by Joshua Lintz from University of Texas at El Paso.
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  • September 22, 2009 Activity Webinar presented by Diane Evans, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and hosted by Leigh Slauson, Capital University. This webinar is based on an activity found at www.lhs.logan.k12.ut.us/~jsmart/tank.htm and other on-line resources (see references). During World War II, the British and U.S. statisticians used estimation methods to deduce the productivity of Germany's armament factories using serial numbers found on captured equipment, such as tanks. The tanks were numbered in a manner similar to 1, 2, 3, ..., N, and the goal of the allies was to estimate the population maximum N from their collected sample of serial numbers. The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the concept of an unbiased estimator of a population parameter. Students develop several estimators for the parameter N and compare them by running simulations in Minitab. Extra materials available for download free of charge.
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  • The best way to predict the future is to invent it. This is a quote by American computer scientist Alan C. Kay (1940 - ). The quote was said at a 1971 meeting of Xerox Corporation's Palo Alto Research Center.
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  • A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: 'Duh.' This a quote from American comedian and talk show host Conan O'Brien (1963 - ) delivered on his TV show "Late Night with Conan O'Brien".
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  • Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that. This is a quote from the cartoon character Homer Simpson created by cartoonist Matt Groening (1954 - ) in 1987. The quote occurs in an episode of "The Simpsons" entitled "Homer the Vigilante" that originally aired on January 6, 1994. This episode was written by John Swartzwelder (1950 - )
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