Effective Learning & Teaching in Mathematics & Its Applications

By Peter Kahn; Joseph Kyle | Go to book overview

13

Ideas for improving learning and teaching of statistics

Neville Davies


Introduction

During the year 2000 teachers of statistics in UK higher education (HE) were asked about their needs to enhance their teaching skills so that, in due course, the learning experience of their students could be enhanced. From the results of this information-gathering exercise, and using evidence from elsewhere, I discuss in this chapter some ideas on how learning and teaching standards in statistics could be raised. A summary of the feedback from the statistical community, which can be viewed at the Web site www.mathstore.ac.uk, was reported in Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research (OR) Newsletter (February 2000).

Experience suggests that it is not a straightforward matter to convince statistical colleagues of the value of new ideas, especially when the proverbial expression 'grandmother sucking eggs' pervades. Indeed, new approaches to convincing users of statistics, namely students and employers, of the value of the subject may be needed as well, especially given the recent decline in the number of students opting to study the subject in the UK, and the number of mathematics departments that have been closed, absorbed and/or 're-profiled' over the last 10 to 15 years.

Paradoxically, statistics is a relatively young subject, and has been at the forefront of embracing technology, especially with the wide availability of software packages that enable very rapid processing of large of amounts of data. However, simply having the use of a software package does not mean that statistical learning takes place.

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