05.15a Mosteller on Teaching Statistics. Frederick Mosteller was (is?) a famous statistician whose article, Frederick Mosteller, "Classroom and Platform Performance,"The American Statistician, February 1980, Vol. 34, No.1, pp. 11-17, is posted on Edward Tufte's website. Here are some of his ideas on teaching:
1. "Physical demonstrations" are very useful in classes. This is a better name than "experiments", because usually we do these demonstrations in ways much too sloppy to be dignified with the name "experiment"-- we don't use any controls, for example.

2. Advice for teachers on page 12: "If you think of possible misunderstandings, do not rely on the fact that no one asks you a question after you ask for questions. If no one asks, say, 'All right, then I have a few,' and then go over the instructions by asking questions about them and calling on specific students to reply."

3. On page 12: "We need to remember that Walter Shewhart, in setting up quality-control methods, regarded usch distributions as the Poisson, the binomial, and the normal as ideals to be achieved when all the assignable causes had been removed after considerable engineering work and research. We cannot expect one-shot classroom experiments to have the kind of perfection that industry can achieve only at great expense and effort."

4. On page 13: Computer simulations are not a substitute for literally physical demonstrations. We learn better by seeing how physical objects such as decks of cards, coins, or dice behave. This is perhaps related to how it is easier to appreciate the value of a reference book if you handle an actual copy of the book rather than just hearing it described.

5. On page 15: Hand out large cubes with different colors on each side, and have students show you a side to show their answers to questions. This might work better than my G302 idea of having large numbers on pages of the readings packet.

I should add this to my Readings in Games and Information website. [in full at 04.05.15a.htm]

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