Calling for linear regression application ideas

In this semester of my PhD education I am taking a course on Project Based Learning (PBL). The major outcome of this class is that I will design a PBL unit. I know that I would like to do this unit on linear regression but I still need help.

I would like to be able to use the project outcomes to help a business, school, or community. The students will be creating a (hopefully) accurate linear regression equation that can be used for prediction. I am looking for ideas of variables that are believed to be associated (e.g. height and weight) that can be researched data can be collected and an analysis can be done.

I have the option of having the students work in groups which means that I could have them each look at a different relationship. The other option would be to have the whole class work on the same relationship and work individually.

No idea is a bad one so please feel free to reply with any brainstorm that may arise.

Thanks ahead of time!

Why is Statistics So Scary?

scared womanI have been completely immersed in the world of statistics for the last three and a half years. I have had the privaledge of teaching for most of that time as well. What I am amazed to see over and over again is that there are hundreds of people out there who are afraid of statistics and don’t know why!

My first question when someone says, “I hate statistics,” is always, “Why?”

The most common answers I get are:

“I am really bad at math.”
“My friend said it was hard, and I have to take it.”
“I hated that class.”

My response to the first one is that statistics uses some basic math but really its the art of understanding information.

To the second I usually say nothing because no one can get through college on what other people do in their classes.

The third is the one that interests me the most because usually a bad instructor was to blame. I don’t ever want to be one of those. Now, you have to know that the reason that I ask why is because as an eductator I want to know things that I can do to improve my students’ experience with statistics.

What I need is the nitty gritty. Why didn’t/don’t you like your statistics class? Is it because the examples didn’t apply to you? Is it because the instructor couldn’t answer your questions? Is it because it was all words and not enough graphics? Is it because you had a bad attitude going into it so the class never stood a chance in your mind? I am looking for people’s specific comments on the question, “Why is statistics so scary?”

Let the words lead you to the formula!!

basic math formulaIf I have a craving for Granny’s (my husband’s grandma) ham balls I wouldn’t dare even make my shopping list without first consulting the recipe card that was handed down to me some time after my husband and I got married. The same goes for a couple of other hallowed recipes that calm my husband in times of anxiety.

math formula I was thinking the other day about how much like recipes formulas are. So much alike, in fact, that I would say that recipe could be a synonym for formula. And yet, it seems that the formula sheet is the last place that my students turn for help instead of the first.

When one is doing any statistics there are formulas close at hand. I urge you to turn first to the formulas before throwing your hands up in the air and pronouncing that statistics is for the birds. The type of variables that you are describing or comparing will decide what type of analysis needs to be done and from there the formulas follow closely. (e.g. linear regression analysis, categorical data analysis, etc.) So, let the words of the problem lead you to the correct formula to use for your data analysis.

The only other major difficulty that I see in the classroom is a fear of multiple variables in an equation or formula. This is an Algebra problem and another topic for another day.

Part of my interests are pathway difficulties. These are roughly paraphrased as the obstacles that students come up against (be it for any number of reasons) that keep them from moving from one concept to another. I plan to use recipes in my lectures about using the formula sheet from now on. I will report back on any feedback that I get from students.