Teachers of statistics

Often teachers of statistics find it difficult to make students understand the various concepts in the subjects. Students should often develop what is known as ‘statistically thinking’. Any statistical conclusion should not be accepted blindly, as statistics proves does not prove much conclusively. The student should have a close understanding of the basic fundamental principles in statistics, and based on their basic knowledge evaluate information (application).

The learning curve in understanding the basics of statistics may be a bit steep, but hard work, greater application, logical thinking and learning together in groups is all that is required. Individuals should be able to communicate what they understand of the statistical application, solving statistical problems, developing conclusions (with strong evidences) and sharing ideas with others. Frequently, there is more than one way of solving statistical problems and students should be able to share and understand the various means the problems can be solved.

Frequently students need to be prepared to develop statistical thinking and reasoning. Also students may have certain misconceptions about statistics that need to be identified and corrected. To identify this teacher need to conduct statistical tests. Once their misconceptions are identified, the teacher can provide feedback. Group activities can also help to correct the misconceptions that may arise in statistics. Several random phenomena in statistics may be difficult to understand.

In such cases, software applications are available which can help the student to understand, visualize and interact with the information. Students learning statistics often have to associate the new information with the old information existing. In certain instances, the old information may be wrong and in such a circumstance, the old information should be forgotten in order to accept the new information. If the student continues to apply the old information, there is a risk that the process (involving the use of the old information) would turn out to be inefficient and the final outcome wrong.

Statistics also requires a lot of practice and involvement in learning activities. If the student has an idea of the previous errors, misconceptions, etc, there are greater chances that newer ideas are more easily picked up. Teachers should also not underestimate the problems students face with understanding the basic of statistics nor overestimate how well the student appears to have understood the fundamentals (Garfield, 1994).

The very need of the ‘Numbers Needed to Treat’ application would certainly better help us understand the application of statistics. This tool would is of immense benefit to the practitioner as it would provide evidence-based information. The clinician would certainly want to know if the treatment is likely to provide any benefit or risk to the patient. There is a likelihood that the practitioner in such an instance would be in a better position to understand and absorb the statistical concepts (Cates, 2009).

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