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Little Apps for teaching stats

As part of the StatPREP project, we have also been developing apps. The StatPREP philosophy is to be data front-and-center in statistics. Consequently, our apps are based entirely in displays of data.  We are calling them “Little Apps”, since each app uses a standard graphical modalities for displaying data. We do add statistical annotations – in particular, confidence intervals – and many of the apps display resampling in the same space as the original data.

Interactive apps are a powerful way to engage students with statistical concepts. Several textbooks have apps associated with them, for instance, the Agresti/Franklin/Klingenberg book, Statistics: The art and science of learning from data, the Tintle et al book, Introduction to Statistical Investigations, the Lock^5 book Statistics: Unlocking the power of data. (Even though these apps are associated with textbooks, many are free to use without the book.)

In contrast to many of the textbook apps, Little Apps are not primarily about explaining statistical theory. Rather, they let you introduce theory and methods gradually to illuminate and refine stories about data.

You can try out the Little Apps by following these links. (We recommend that you open the links one at a time in a new browser tab. There’s no point in opening them all at once.) The instructor orientation for each app explains the display, the controls, and gives ideas for lessons based on the apps.

Little App Principles

The design of the Little Apps follows principles consistent with the goals of StatPREP.

  1. There’s always real data behind the apps.
  2. The displays are always genuine modes of displaying data.
  3. Most of the apps introduce the possibility of exploring the data and finding out something about the world.
  4. We try hard to avoid purely theoretical constructions. For instance, we use simulation to generate samples and resamples.
  5. We de-emphasize p-values in accordance with the recommendations of the American Statistical Association. You’ll find p-values in some of the Little Apps, but almost always there is a graphical way to assess significance by eye.
  6. Following the GAISE report, we emphasize multi-variate thinking. There’s almost always a response and explanatory variable. (As we introduce new apps about modeling, there will be covariates as well.)
  7. Statistics are always displayed in the context of the whole range of data. For instance, if there’s a mean and its confidence interval, that’s plotted on top of the case-by-case data so that students see clearly the variation in the data.
  8. There’s usually a way to see how results depend on sample size.
  9. You and your students can access the Little Apps with an ordinary web browser (using the links above).
  10. The apps are portable. An instructor who wants to embed an app in a lesson worksheet or an interactive tutorial can do so. Similarly, the Little Apps can be installed on your own computer, which can be useful for those teaching in institutions with limited Internet access, firewalls, etc.
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