Saturday, 9 January 2016

Teaching Statistics

Teaching Statistics

Being able to provide solid evidence-based arguments and critically evaluate claims based on data are important skills that all citizens should have. Hence the study of statistics worldwide at all educational levels is gaining more attention. The study of statistics provides students with tools, ideas and dispositions to react intelligently to information in the world around them. Reflecting this need to improve students’ ability to think statistically, statistical literacy and reasoning are becoming part of the mainstream school and university curricula in many countries. As a consequence, statistics education is becoming a thriving field of research and curricular development.

Statistics is vigorously gaining importance and recognition in today’s society thanks to the boom created by the buzz words Big Data and Analytics. Statistics is a central tool in moving science, economics, politics, schools, and universities forward. Quantitative information is omnipresent in media and in the everyday lives of citizens worldwide. Data are increasingly used to add credibility to advertisements, arguments, or personal and professional advice. Therefore, there is a growing public and policy consensus that being able to provide reliable and persuasive evidence-based arguments and critically evaluate data-based inferences are crucial skills that all citizens of the twenty-first century should have. All students consequently must become statistically literate and be able to reason statistically even at an informal level as part of their compulsory and lifelong education

Despite the increasing awareness of the importance of statistical literacy, statistics has been viewed by many students as difficult and unpleasant to learn. Many university instructors find statistics and research methods courses equally frustrating and unrewarding to teach. In schools, mathematics teachers often view statistics as a marginal strand in the mathematics curriculum and therefore minimize or ignore its teaching. Students equate statistics with mathematics and expect the focus to be on numbers, computations, formulas, and one right answer. They are uncomfortable with the messiness of data, the different possible interpretations based on different assumptions, and the extensive use of writing and communication skills. The dissatisfaction with students’ ability to think and reason statistically, even after formally studying statistics at the undergraduate and graduate level should lead to a re-examination of the field of statistics education

Many students still leave their course perceiving statistics as a set of tools and techniques that are soon forgotten. Even current methods of teaching continue to focus on the development of skills and have neglected to instill in their courses experiences that develop the ability to think statistically

There is a need for data driven, innovative approaches in teaching statistics keeping in mind the objective of statistics in the real world. This subject should be comfortable even to a students who fears mathematics because this subject is all about working with relationships and the use of technology simplifies the process further. All the statistics and business analytics courses designed by keep in mind a student with very little knowledge of statistics, but has the attitude to learn, decipher from the data and make meaningful conclusions needed for the aspects of life. 

Bottom Line: Statistics is much much bigger than just a few calculations. It helps you in every walk of life. Don’t compare it with Maths and develop fear and allergy towards it. Start enjoying it……


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