Teaching Stats Again

It’s Sunday. On Thursday, Math 102—Statistics and Probability—has its first meeting at Mills College, and I am allegedly in charge. This is a one-semester course, and at the college level, calculus required, in contrast to the year-long, high-school, non-AP classes I taught a few years ago.

So we will have to move pretty fast, but the students have more experience, which I hope will mostly be a good thing.

I’ve just come back from a few days at Cal Poly, watching Beth Chance and Allan Rossman actually teaching their courses, to see what the masters look like in action. It was inspiring and daunting. One thing Beth said that made me grimace was how important it was to take a few minutes to reflect on what worked. So here I am, gonna try again. I have hopes but make no promises, as this semester will be packed: I’m also teaching Calculus I and Multivariable, two more courses I’ve never taught before. I took them in college, and did well, though; OTOH, it’s been a long time since Green’s Theorem: my 40th reunion is this spring.

So for any of you watching, some early remarks:

  • We’ll be using Beth and Allan’s newest offering, the “ISCAM” text.
  • I will of course be using a simulation-based approach to inference. ISCAM starts that way but quickly (I think) brings in Normal-based inference and t procedures. I’m re-ordering some of their investigations to bring the Normal in later.
  • Students get Fathom for free, still, so we’ll be using that; I’ll write Fathom-based instructions to replace the ones ISCAM uses for R. It will mostly be fine; I think I saw one thing in the R code that I didn’t know how to do in Fathom.
  • At the same time, Fathom has trouble right now: under Mavericks data import from Census or the Web is broken. That was so great in the past, but now many of my handouts from before will no longer work. Arrgh.
  • Simulation-based inference is a big enough deal now that some of the Big Dogs of the movement have a blog.
  • I hope to get a link to have my students do the CAOS test so we can compare. It will also give me a nice pre-assessment so I have a clue what they know about simple stuff.
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Tim Erickson

Math-science ed freelancer and sometime math teacher. In 2014–15, at Mills College in Oakland, California.

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