The premise Keep It Simple for Students guides David’s teaching and writings. Through his many years of teaching applied statistics, his vision has come to include these four key principles:
- Show students the relevance of statistics.
- Familiarize students with software used in the real world.
- Provide guidance to students for using software.
- Give students ample practice in understanding how to apply statistics.
Show students the relevance of statistics. Students need a frame of reference when learning statistics, especially when statistics is not their major. For business students, that frame of reference should be the functional areas of business–that is, accounting, finance, information systems, management, and marketing. For students majoring in the liberal arts and sciences or in education, the frame of reference should be in the liberal arts, the sciences, or in education. Each statistical topic needs to be presented in an applied context related to at least one of these areas. The focus in teaching each topic should be on its application, the interpretation of results, the presentation of assumptions, the evaluation of the assumptions, and the discussion of what should be done if the assumptions are violated.
Familiarize students with software used in the real world. Integrating software into all aspects of an introductory statistics course allows the course to focus on interpretation of results instead of computations. Introductory statistics courses should recognize that spreadsheet programs and statistical packages are commonly found on a desktop computer, therefore making the interpretation of results more important than the tedious hand calculations required to produce them.
Provide guidance to students for using software. Books should contain clear instructions to help students effectively use the programs that are integrated with the study of statistics, without having those instructions dominating the book or the courses in which they are used.
Give students ample practice in understanding how to apply statistics. Both classroom examples and homework exercises should involve actual or realistic data as much as possible. Students should work with data sets, both small and large, and be encouraged to look beyond the statistical analysis of data to the interpretation of results.