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Playing with Numbers: Bringing Statistics to Life in the Undergraduate Classroom
Unformatted Document Text:  Nordyke, Moulton and Nesbit  Page 2    Introduction Teaching statistics at the undergraduate level can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can also be the proverbial hot potato that is passed about the political science department to reluctant faculty members who dread the experience. Likewise, taking a statistics course can be a fun and challenging experience for students, or a dreaded semester of “sadistics” as referred to by some students. As doctoral students assigned to teach undergraduate statistics, we have a unique perspective on statistical education, as we often find ourselves till in the process of learning new statistical techniques and applications. It is from our experiences, both positive and negative, in our own statistical analysis training that we are driven to develop assignments and projects that make our courses interesting, relevant, and even fun for our students. Before providing details on the ideas that we have developed and the methods that we employ it is first necessary to provide some context. At Indiana University, K300 Statistical Techniques is an introduction to statistical analysis at the undergraduate level. The official course description is as follows, “An introduction to statistics. Nature of statistical data. Ordering and manipulation of data. Measures of central tendency and dispersion. Elementary probability. Concepts of statistical inference decision: estimation and hypothesis testing. Special topics discussed may include regression and correlation, analysis of variance, nonparametric methods.” Hence this is not a course in research methods, but a statistics course that focuses on mathematical derivation and interpretation. K300 courses are typically composed of 55-75 students, most of which are at least at the sophomore level. Basic algebra is a prerequisite for the course, so most of the students have taken at least one previous course in mathematics. Since a statistics course is required by several academic programs on campus, the students in the course come from several majors. Most of our students are in one of the Bachelor programs in the

Authors: Nordyke, Shane., Moulton, Stephanie. and Nesbit, Becky.
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Nordyke, Moulton and Nesbit 
Page 2 
 
Introduction
Teaching statistics at the undergraduate level can be a fun and rewarding experience. It
can also be the proverbial hot potato that is passed about the political science department to
reluctant faculty members who dread the experience. Likewise, taking a statistics course can be
a fun and challenging experience for students, or a dreaded semester of “sadistics” as referred to
by some students. As doctoral students assigned to teach undergraduate statistics, we have a
unique perspective on statistical education, as we often find ourselves till in the process of
learning new statistical techniques and applications. It is from our experiences, both positive and
negative, in our own statistical analysis training that we are driven to develop assignments and
projects that make our courses interesting, relevant, and even fun for our students.
Before providing details on the ideas that we have developed and the methods that we
employ it is first necessary to provide some context. At Indiana University, K300 Statistical
Techniques is an introduction to statistical analysis at the undergraduate level. The official
course description is as follows,
“An introduction to statistics. Nature of statistical data. Ordering and manipulation of
data. Measures of central tendency and dispersion. Elementary probability. Concepts of
statistical inference decision: estimation and hypothesis testing. Special topics discussed
may include regression and correlation, analysis of variance, nonparametric methods.”
Hence this is not a course in research methods, but a statistics course that focuses on
mathematical derivation and interpretation. K300 courses are typically composed of 55-75
students, most of which are at least at the sophomore level. Basic algebra is a prerequisite for the
course, so most of the students have taken at least one previous course in mathematics. Since a
statistics course is required by several academic programs on campus, the students in the course
come from several majors. Most of our students are in one of the Bachelor programs in the


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