Preface:
Statistics, like them or not, is one of the major ways humans have of understanding the world.
In this seminar, we teach some basic statistics, but far more important, we use statistics to discuss and understand topics of great interest to society, to teachers, and to students. How do polls work? How are measures of teacher performance constructed and how are they interpreted? What is a standard deviation and why should I care? What is regression toward the mean? (Does it reflect how people get nastier…or is it something about the probability of getting a lower score if I did well on the first test?) What must we know about sampling and probability to understand statistics and to not lose our shirts at poker? How do I use graphs to display numerical information in ways that are understandable to children? To adults?
The seminar will be very hands-on and participatory. We’ll build a database by doing a content analysis of words used by students and public speakers. We’ll construct a survey and use the findings for our own analysis. We’ll interpret articles from today’s newspapers or radio and TV programs. We’ll observe how students arrange themselves in the lunch room and find ways of expressing those observations in numbers that can be compared across schools and times. Each session will devote consider-able time to working with teachers as they develop their own projects and curricular materials.