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Introduction to Statistics: A Modeling Approach

Our first project is an interactive statistics textbook, delivered online. We invite you to preview the materials. If you teach introductory statistics and want to join our project, find out how to use the book with your students.

The Problem: All Trees, No Forest

Some view learning as the accumulation of bits of knowledge--both things you know and things you know how to do. In our view, the focus on bits may lead students to miss the forest for the trees. They learn lots of bits (e.g., p, z, chi-square, ANOVA, regression, and so on) but fail to develop a coherent understanding of how all of these bits are connected together. Because of this lack of coherence, students often end up unable to apply what they have learned when they encounter new situations.

Practicing Connections

Our statistics textbook is based on the practicing connections hypothesis: Instead of just teaching the bits, we continuously ask students to actively practice connecting the bits together into a coherent representation, one that is more flexible and transferable to new situations. We accomplish this by relating everything in the course to a small set of core concepts.

Concept of Statistical Model

We use statistical modeling (as in DATA = MODEL + ERROR) as the core conceptual framework for the course. For example, the mean is taught as the simplest statistical model. Standard deviation is taught as a way to measure error around a model. Every bit is taught in relation to the whole, resulting in a more coherent understanding of the domain.

Embedded in the Practice of Data Analysis

Concepts are taught in the context of data analysis, which students learn to do using R. Students go back and forth between doing and understanding, learning the practice of data analysis while, at the same time, learning to think using statistical ideas.

Most people who write a textbook breathe a huge sigh of relief when it is done. The CourseKata approach is different: we see the first version of the book as just a starting point.

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