Category Archives: 07. Using real data

Chocolate: tactile simulations without data collection

jo_headshot8Jo Hardin – Pomona College, Claremont, CA

Many of us will agree that using tactile demonstrations is super fun and can also be an excellent way to teach a particular concept.  Students engage with the material differently when they can touch, smell, or taste the objects as opposed to only seeing or listening to a demonstration.  The SBI blog has had many excellent articles describing in-class tactile simulations, see here and here and here.

However, sometimes the logistical constraints setting up the demonstration take away too much from an already packed 50 minute class session.  And those details get even harder with large classes.  One of the biggest challenges comes from collecting data or getting results back from the students.  Although some classes have sophisticated clickers that make data collection easier, setting up and using clickers is also a logistical challenge (well worth it for using all semester, but not for a one day class demonstration).

The conversation that ensues about the experimental design is incredibly valuable for understanding paired design (and the motivation for the pairing) or survival analysis (and the need for tools to analyze censored data). 

Continue reading

Strategies to find real data from genuine studies

somaSoma Roy – Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

I firmly believe that the key to getting students to appreciate what the discipline of Statistics does is to show them examples – lots of examples of a variety of real studies that investigate real research questions, and have students analyze the data from such studies. And, so in all of my classes I use data from real research studies to help students understand that Statistics is about things that matter, and that it has applications to the real world, which they tend to think of as separate from their statistics class, especially when it is a General Education class. Below I have listed a few strategies I use to give students experience with real data from genuine studies, a few resources where you can find such data and studies, and have also included a few examples of studies I use in class.

… I often have to go through many articles before I find something that fits the objective(s) I have in mind. On the plus side, I often find articles that though not suitable for the topic I have in mind at the time, does have other things to offer.

Continue reading

Highlighting real statistical studies

KRossKevin Ross – Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

One of the recommendations of the GAISE report is to “use real data where possible.” While this is great advice, perhaps an even better recommendation is to “always use real statistical studies.” This post describes some ways I highlight real studies in my courses. While my approach might not be novel, I hope you find some of these ideas useful. 

Highlighting real data in our teaching is extremely important.   However, perhaps a better goal is to highlight real statistical studies…

Continue reading

Emphasizing the entire research process throughout the curriculum: The next step in real data integration in introductory statistics courses

Nathan Tintle – Dordt College


In 2005, the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education made six recommendations about how we should teach introductory statistics. One of these recommendations is to use real data. The report goes on to argue that real data, as opposed to merely realistic (made-up for a hypothetical context) or naked (no context provided) data, is preferred. I argue that we should go a step further by emphasizing the entire statistical research process throughout the curriculum. 

To ensure our students leave our courses recognizing the indispensable nature of statistics in science and society we must force ourselves to get out of the box and embrace teaching the entire research context by utilizing real data that matters. 

Continue reading