College statistics courses teach students how to analyze and interpret data. Many students take statistics because of a requirement in another field, such as physics or chemistry. However, many college students take statistics because they need to take a beginning level math course as part of the university's general education requirements. According to The College Board, 236,000 students enroll in an entry-level statistics course every semester. Teachers need to develop methods to teach these beginners the art and science of statistics.
Tell the students why the study of statistics is important for other fields. Students will engage in the class more if they think it will help them pursue their goals. Teach why data is important to every field of study and how learning statistics will help the students interpret data.
Teach the students using real-world data whenever possible. Do not make up data points for teaching purposes, but give real-world examples. This shows students how statistics apply to their lives and the world around them, and should help the students engage the material.
Divide the students into small groups for discussion and problem-solving. Encourage the students to discuss the data among themselves. Students who actively discuss the course material are more likely to remember it than students who merely listen to a lecture.
Assign written and oral presentations. This is another way to get the students actively thinking about statistics. If you only assign mathematical problems for homework, many students will solve the problems and never think about why the steps are important.
Give the students group projects to work on outside of class. Projects give the students another way to engage the material and other students. Assign real-world statistical problems that a group of students can solve and present to the rest of the class.
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