Jul 16

The pearls of AP Statistics 1

I start a series of new posts about AP Statistics. In my view, AP Statistics is not just bad - it is harmful - and somebody has to say this aloud. AP Statistics textbooks target a huge market (I have eight textbooks, and probably there are more). Their level and teaching methodology address the needs of that market, so in this sense the choices made by their authors are justified. However, it is The College Board that sets the standards, and those standards are so low that I would not advise anybody to follow them.

In my posts I hope to cover all eight textbooks that I have. The first batch of my posts will be based on the book A. Agresti, A. Franklin. Statistics: The Art and Science of Learning from Data, 3rd Edition. Pearson, 2013. In conclusion of each batch, I am going to give an overall evaluation of the book. Whatever criticism I have, it is more about The College Board requirements than about a particular book.

They say: Descriptive statistics refers to methods for summarizing the collected data (where the data constitutes either a sample or a population). The summaries usually consist of graphs and numbers such as averages and percentages (p.9). Inferential statistics refers to methods of making decisions or predictions about a population, based on data obtained from a sample of that population (p.10).

I say: I am a professional statistician, and the distinction between descriptive statistics and inferential statistics never played a role in my research or teaching. If you worry about this distinction, give it later, when your students know what you are talking about. This will allow you to avoid asking unprofessionally trivial questions in the beginning of the course.


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