# Suggestions for Teachers of Statistics

• Emphasize that uncertainty is often unavoidable; we can best deal with it by seeking to know where it may occur and trying to estimate how large it is.
• Be willing to say, "I don't know" when appropriate.
• Point out the differences between ordinary and technical uses of words.
• Be sure to include some discussion of skewed distributions.
• Emphasize that every frequentist statistical inference technique depends on model assumptions.
• When a test fails to reject the null hypothesis, do not accept the null hypothesis unless a power calculation has shown that the test will detect a practically significant difference, or unless there is some other carefully thought out decision criterion that has been met.
• Expect your students to do the same.
• Remember, and emphasize, that one study does not prove anything.
• In particular, do not use strong language such as "We conclude that ...", "This proves that ...", 'This shows that ... is ...."
• Instead, use more honest language such as, "These data support the claim that ..." or "This experiment suggests that ..."
• Expect your students to do the same.
• In introductory courses, try to caution your students about the problems with multiple inference (and the file drawer problem), even if you can't go into detail.
• In advanced courses, be sure to discuss the problems of multiple inference and the file drawer problem
• Try to use a textbook that includes the points above. The introductory textbooks by De Veaux, Velleman and Bock generally are good choices for this at their level. I occasionally post brief reviews of statistics textbooks on my blog at http://www.ma.utexas.edu/blogs/mks/.
• Make use of web demos that can help students understand concepts and cautions. The following sites include links to some such demos:
•  http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/mks/CommonMistakes2013/commonmistakeshome2013.html
• http://www.ma.utexAS.edu/users/mks/M358KInstructorMaterials.htm (scroll down to near the bottom of the page; these are keyed to one of the textbooks by De Veaux,Velleman, and Bock.)
• For more suggestions for introductory courses, see American Statistical Association (2005, reformatted 2010), Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) College Report (can be downloaded from http://www.amstat.org/education/gaise/index.cfm)
• Make use of other resources for professional development for statistics teachers:
• The Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) offers workshops,  webinars, and links to resources for statistics teachers.
• The Journal of Statistics Education is available on line to anyone for no charge. It publishes three issues per year containing peer-reviewed articles related to statistics education.  Their home page has information on how to receive e-mail announcements when new issues are published, as well as links to an Interactive computing Archive, a Data Archive, and other resources.
• Join the American Statistical Association and its Statistical Education Section. The latter will give you access to a list serve that can be useful for asking questions about teaching statistics.
Last updated April 29, 2014