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The Course as Textbook: A Symbiotic Relationship in the Introductory Statistics Class


Zieffler, Andrew; Isaak, Rebekah; and Joan Garfield."The Course as Textbook: A Symbiotic Relationship in the Introductory Statistics Class." Technology Innovations in Statistics Education, 7(3) (2013): 1–16. Print. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/12q2z58x

p.1: The work described in this paper was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (CATALST, DUE-0814433). -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.1: In the past several decades, the statistics textbook has evolved to include a variety of ancillary materials intended to supplement students’ learning and assist the teacher (e.g., workbooks, study guides, audio program, test banks, PowerPoint slides, links to applets and websites, etc.). Given the capabilities of modern technology and the need for change in content and pedagogy in the introductory statistics course, a new vision of a textbook is offered, one that exploits new technology, provides modern content, and is a more integral part of the course. Rather than serving as a supplement to a course, the modern textbook needs to embody the course. An example of such a text in the context of a unique, new introductory statistics course is provided. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.4: Gelman and Nolan (2002) view statistics textbooks as ways to integrate theoretical concepts, assignments, and the use of technology with the course. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.5: Authors of statistics textbooks have not been slow to take advantage of the innovative formats over the years. For example, David Moore teamed with the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Project (1989) to create a video telecourse, Against All Odds: Inside Statistics. The National Science Foundation also supported the creation of a series of video modules, Statistics: Decisions Through Data, intended to supplement the teaching of data analysis in secondary schools (Moore, 1992). -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.5: Another example is the Interactive SOCR AP Statistics Curriculum, a Wiki eBook developed by the Statistics Online Computational Resource (SOCR) at UCLA. This Internet-based book is “community-built, completely open-access (in terms of use and contributions), blends information technology, scientific techniques and modern pedagogical concepts, and is multilingual” (SOCR, n.d.). -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.5-6: Activities in the CATALST course are built on ideas of modeling and simulation, with “the core logic of inference” as the foundation (Cobb, 2007, p. 13). When applied to randomized experiments and random samples, Cobb refers to this logic as the “three Rs”: randomize, repeat, and reject. Garfield, delMas, and Zieffler have generalized this logic to a modeling approach of inferential reasoning as follows:

  • Model. Specify a model that will generate data to reasonably approximate the variation in outcomes attributable to the random process–be it in sampling or assignment. outcomes attributable to the random process–be it in sampling or assignment.
  • Randomize & Repeat. Use the model to generate simulated data for a single trial, in order to assess whether the outcomes are reasonable. Specify the summary measure to be to assess whether the outcomes are reasonable. Specify the summary measure to be collected from each trial. Then, use the model to generate simulated data for many trials, each time collecting the summary measure.
  • Evaluate. Examine the distribution of the resulting summary measures. Use this distribution to assess particular outcomes, evaluate the model used to generate the data, distribution to assess particular outcomes, evaluate the model used to generate the data, compare the behavior of the model to observed data, make predictions, etc.

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p.6: Aside from building a deep understanding of inference through the process of simulation, by the end of the course, our goals are that students:

  • Understand the need to use simulation to address questions involving statistical inference. For example, “Could these data have resulted just by chance?”
  • Develop an understanding of how we simulate data to represent a random process or model. For example, how to choose an appropriate model to simulate data for a particular situation or process.
  • Understand how to use the results/outcomes generated by a model to evaluate data observed in a research study.
  • Develop an appreciation for use of data to provide evidence for an inference.
  • Build a foundation for statistical thinking through immersion in real world problems and data.

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p.7: The course employs an active-learning, student-centered pedagogy, where the primary source of learning for students is through daily small-group activities. In the daily course activities, students work cooperatively in groups of three or four to explore the course content, confront their misconceptions, and construct new knowledge. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.11: Most students expressed great appreciation for not having to purchase a textbook and said they were more willing to purchase software for the course because of this. Many liked the use of activities as the primary way to convey important information -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.11: We have observed that students tend to collect and keep copies of course materials (e.g., handouts, readings, etc.) as they progress through the course. Many use three-ring binders and organize the content in ways that make sense to themselves. The most common method of organization we’ve seen is chronological, where activities, homework, etc. are mixed in with each other in the order they are used. There were a few students who organized the material in other manners. For instance, some of the students organized the material by clustering the types of material in their binder (e.g., all homework is together, all activities are together, etc.). Regardless of their organizational structure, nearly all students bring their binders to class on a daily basis. Our observations suggest that students use and reference these materials in a similar fashion to how we have seen students use conventional textbooks (e.g., for recall and reminders of definitions, procedures, etc.). -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.12: Although we think that the salient organization of the material in the textbook should be clear, we also consider it important that students have a choice for how these materials are physically organized. Printed textbooks and course packets are created in a linear fashion, limiting the possibility to branch ideas or link concepts. But, the use of an electronic combination of materials potentially allows more freedom in organization. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.14: In light of our view of what is essential in a textbook for today’s modern statistics course, and in particular, for the CATALST course, we suggest a revision to Cobb’s advice pertaining to judging a textbook by its exercises. We believe that textbook needs to be judged on (1) how well it is aligned with the course content and pedagogical philosophy, and (2) how well it supports student learning through the text and activities in the text (both for use in class and outside of class). -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014