Author Archives: Tisha Hooks

About Tisha Hooks

Tisha Hooks (thooks@winona.edu) is Associate Professor of Statistics at Winona State University in Winona, MN.

Are Normal-Based Methods “Smothering” Our Students’ Understanding of Inference?

Tisha HooksTisha Hooks, Winona State University

As an undergraduate student, I learned a lot in my intro stat course about what formulas/tables to use and when to use them; unfortunately, I learned very little about why these methods worked. As a young professor, I set out to give my students an experience that was very different from mine. Fortunately for me I landed at Winona State University where I was able to work with Chris Malone, who had recently revamped his intro course. One of the first papers Chris encouraged me to read was written by George Cobb (referenced below), and the following quote hit home: “Our curriculum is needlessly complicated because we put the normal distribution, as an approximate sampling distribution for the mean, at the center of our curriculum, instead of putting the core logic of inference at the center.” Early on in my career, I’m pretty sure that Chris and I talked at least once a day about how to center our curriculum on core inferential concepts, and I started using a simulation-based curriculum which has allowed me to get to these core concepts early and often.

… my transition to normal-based methods involves using simulations/randomizations to introduce the logic of inference, connecting the empirical probabilities obtained from simulation studies to theoretical probabilities used in traditional tests…


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