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SDS Seminar Series: Dr. James Scott (Thursday, April 29, 3pm)
Thursday, April 29, 2021, 03:00pm - 04:00pm

The Spring 2021 SDS Seminar Series continues on Thursday April 29, 2021 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. via Zoom with Dr. James Scott (Professor at the Department of Information, Risk, Operations Mgmt. in the McCombs School of Business, as well as at the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin).

Please contact stat.admin@austin.utexas.edu for the Zoom link.

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Title: "Teaching statistical inference to beginners, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bootstrap"

Abstract: In this talk, I will describe our recent efforts to modernize the statistics courses required of all undergraduates in the McCombs School of Business.  In particular, I will focus on our new intro course, STA 301, taken by all business freshmen.  In developing STA 301, we emphasized topics such as:

- data workflow and data visualization in R (using the tidyverse and ggplot2)
- study design and causal thinking
- the use of the bootstrap for uncertainty quantification
- regression modeling as a unifying framework for many common data-analysis tasks

And we de-emphasized topics such as:
- probability distributions
- statistical inference based on parametric assumptions or asymptotic approximations
- hypothesis testing

In fact, an unusual and seemingly heretical feature of STA 301 is that we didn’t teach the normal distribution or t distribution at all—and yet we still managed to give students the tools need to accomplish all the common inference problems taught in a typical introductory course (such as inference for a difference of means or proportions).

In this talk, I will describe what we did, why we did it that way, and what software tools made it possible.  I hope to encourage a freeform discussion about teaching statistics to beginners.