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Fwd: Book Styles Reply
Posted:
Feb 26, 1996 7:26 PM


>Al Coons I wrote: > >>No wonder statistics is boring and difficult to understand >>(not to you and me but to so many students). From what I >>can gather "Introduction to the >>Practice of Statistics", Moore & McCabe, seems to be a >>book which is generally well accepted and used in many >>programs. It is 700 pages of text with a few charts and a >>minimum number of plots. It reads like a text for a college >>nonapplied mathematics text (again fine for you and me).
Mr. Jones Replied
>>i infer that Mr Coons has never looked at a mathematical statistics book.
It might be worth noting that my previous paragraph said
>Now a disclaimer  I am not in any danger of falling into the trap of thinking a pretty book, with lots of interesting pictures, graphics, side bars, examples, stories, and biographies is necessarily better. In fact, since most of my students are going to the best colleges I am particularly concerned that I find a book with enough rigor.
Three points:
1) The fact that a book is written in a way that students might learn best does not eliminate rigor. My message asked for both rigor and a more interesting presentation. Note that mathematics and statistics are front runners for the least liked subjects  there has to be reasons for this and those reasons have to be addressed.
2) The argument (that has been mentioned a few times in the last week) that because college statistics books are a certain way and that this is an AP course does not suggest that college books are better or worse for high school students. It only implies that they are the type of books used in college! They may or may not be appropriate for a high school in which classes have between 10 and 20 students, computers for each pair of students are in the classroom, and highly motivated students with strong backgrounds who will rightly not put up with endless lectures.
3) Personal attacks in this medium only lead to less discussion. Ironically, I have taken Mathematics Statistics Courses from a University Mathematics Deparment in the last few years.
 Forwarded message: From: tbrown@lville.pvt.k12.nj.us (Timothy Brown) To: AlCoons@aol.com, apstatl@etc.bc.ca Date: 960226 10:20:34 EST
Al Coons writes:
>No wonder statistics is boring and difficult to understand >(not to you and me but to so many students). From what I >can gather "Introduction to the >Practice of Statistics", Moore & McCabe, seems to be a >book which is generally well accepted and used in many >programs. It is 700 pages of text with a few charts and a >minimum number of plots. It reads like a text for a college >nonapplied mathematics text (again fine for you and me). >It is hard to believe that this type of presentation matches >up best with the learning styles of the majority of our >students.
>As you flip through Johnson your first impression is that >Statistics lives, is interesting, has a history, is connected to >the real world, that data, results, and processes can be >visualized.
I wholeheartedly agree with your principles, Al, but I want to defend the Moore and McCabe book. (I'm using it this year in our first attempt at an AP course). While there isn't much in the book for strictly visual learners, I think there is probably enough. Given that it's supposed to be a AP course, we should be pushing kids to learn how to handle "college" texts anyway. As for realworld relevance, I think Moore and McCabe is excellent. For one nice example, check out the discussion of outliers in Chapter 1. They give great examples of improper inclusion and improper exclusion.
But what I like most about Moore and McCabe is the emphasis on critical thinking. They play down calculations, formulas, etc., and really do a nice job of getting across the fundamental principles of describing data ("Look for a pattern and deviations from the pattern"), drawing conclusions ("Do not let your calculations override common sense"), and making inferences (Sorry, I can't come up with a snappy quote). This approach is perfectly in turn with E.T.S.'s avowed emphasis on the exam.
I have used three or four texts over the years (admittedly no others on the recommended list), and none have come close to this one. It has helped to make this course fun to teach so far.
By the way, I do not know either author, and I don't work for W.H. Freeman! :)



