Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Citing Data in the Statistics Classroom

I must admit that, in the past, I haven't done as good of a job with citing datasets as I would like. Occasionally, I'll find a worksheet I made years ago and will want to find the original data. In the back of my mind, I'll recall finding it in one of the dozens of Stats textbooks on my bookshelves but have no idea which one. I probably would have benefited from a data citation in that case.

There are more good reasons to reference datasets, especially for teachers and students. Here are the 7 reasons I think we should citing data in the statistics classroom as well as the best guide on how to do it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Using Real Data from the Real World... Because Really

I like to use real data in my Statistics classes. I can think of only one brief instance off the top of my head that I wouldn't. Unfortunately, most of the math textbooks and exams my students see contain lots of made-up real-world situations with painfully obvious fake data. So it's a real relief that most of the Statistics textbooks I know are chock full of examples and problems that use genuine datasets. These data come from many different disciplines, from peer-reviewed journals, or from the author's personal data collection (and these are often fun).

For class assignments, I sometimes have my students collect data too. I sometimes, however, want my students to complete a task using whatever existing dataset they wish. In these cases, the context is not really important so I would much rather have them research and use something they find personally interesting. Most students love that they get to choose the topic, but a few have complained that they don't know where to look for data. Like, in alllll of the Internet they couldn't find any data anywhere that was worth investigating. Okayyy...

In my students' defense, there is so much data available publicly that I can understand how it can be overwhelming for a teenager. The datasets are out there but they're not always easy to find, or they require fancy software, or they're only available for a fee, or students don't know where to begin their search. So, this summer I set out to compile a list of good online sources for data that students and teachers can use in the Statistics classroom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And so it begins...

Posts and pages forthcoming. Stay tuned.

(Photo: Calvin and Hobbes)