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Playing with Numbers: Bringing Statistics to Life in the Undergraduate Classroom
Unformatted Document Text:  Nordyke, Moulton and Nesbit  Page 3    School of Public and Environmental Affairs but we generally have several students from political science, nursing, biology, journalism, and the physical education & recreation programs. While the assignments and projects we discuss have been primarily developed to deal with the challenges of a large class we feel they can easily be adapted and even improved upon for a smaller class setting. To provide a quality undergraduate statistics course that fits the needs of both the students and instructors, we have three primary goals. Our first goal is to make our courses interesting and relevant to our students. We knew from previous experience that the majority of undergraduate students enrolled in statistics will not continue on to graduate school or take any further statistical training. Hence, much of what we must necessarily cover they would never use again. We focus then on teaching our students to be critical consumers of statistics and to provide the tools necessary to answer questions similar to those that they may encounter in the “real world” work environment. The focus is on a way of thinking first, with a set of tools to assist such thinking, rather than a set of tools with no context. Our second goal is to develop an approach to the course that does not create an overwhelming workload for the instructors. Through our experiences teaching statistics independently in the past, we found that several ideas that seemed ideal from a student perspective turned out to cause workloads that were disproportionally heavy for busy instructors. We also saw many of our colleagues struggle to develop their own statistics courses beyond what the available textbooks had to offer. To this end we wanted to develop not only ideas, but the worksheets, handouts, and homework assignments that would necessarily accompany them so that we could share our approach to the course with others. By collaborating we were able to greatly improve the course we offered our students without becoming over burdened.

Authors: Nordyke, Shane., Moulton, Stephanie. and Nesbit, Becky.
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Nordyke, Moulton and Nesbit 
Page 3 
 
School of Public and Environmental Affairs but we generally have several students from
political science, nursing, biology, journalism, and the physical education & recreation programs.
While the assignments and projects we discuss have been primarily developed to deal with the
challenges of a large class we feel they can easily be adapted and even improved upon for a
smaller class setting.
To provide a quality undergraduate statistics course that fits the needs of both the
students and instructors, we have three primary goals. Our first goal is to make our courses
interesting and relevant to our students. We knew from previous experience that the majority
of undergraduate students enrolled in statistics will not continue on to graduate school or take
any further statistical training. Hence, much of what we must necessarily cover they would
never use again. We focus then on teaching our students to be critical consumers of statistics and
to provide the tools necessary to answer questions similar to those that they may encounter in the
“real world” work environment. The focus is on a way of thinking first, with a set of tools to
assist such thinking, rather than a set of tools with no context.
Our second goal is to develop an approach to the course that does not create an
overwhelming workload for the instructors. Through our experiences teaching statistics
independently in the past, we found that several ideas that seemed ideal from a student
perspective turned out to cause workloads that were disproportionally heavy for busy instructors.
We also saw many of our colleagues struggle to develop their own statistics courses beyond what
the available textbooks had to offer. To this end we wanted to develop not only ideas, but the
worksheets, handouts, and homework assignments that would necessarily accompany them so
that we could share our approach to the course with others. By collaborating we were able to
greatly improve the course we offered our students without becoming over burdened.


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