The truth about statistics courses in higher education
Many college degree programs require students to take statistics. Most of these students dread this course because they perceive it to be dry and boring.
And with good reason. Statistics is typically taught this way. I remember my first stats class in college. It was the only class I ever fell asleep in. And there were several reasons for that, not least of which was the monotone voice my professor used during lectures in class.
Then later, out in the real world, my career brought me to a place that required me to use statistics as a regular part of my day job. And it was anything but dry and boring. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I learned that statistics can be exciting and fun, because (given the right data) statistics can make some pretty accurate predictions of what will happen.
Then my career brought me to higher education, and I began to teach statistics. I also began to observe how most everyone else around me teaching statistics were teaching it the way it was taught to me (and probably to them as well) --- dry and boring. Students complained about nightmare scenarios in which they needed to understand the course content, but their instructors either chose to be boring or didn't demonstrate that they really cared to help their students learn.
Why is that? After all, if statistics really is exciting and fun (and it is), then why do so many statistics instructors not teach it that way?
The truth about instructors in higher education
To understand why so many statistics students find their instructors ineffective, we need to understand what motivates instructors to act as they do.
The vast majority of instructors in college courses are part-time adjunct faculty. This means the administration limits their course load so that they do not have to pay for their health care and other benefits. And this is true for every discipline --- science, engineering, humanities, liberal arts, whatever. It's all about saving money by not having to spend it.
This bean-counter approach may help the P&L sheet look good, but it doesn't do much to encourage excellence in teaching or motivate instructors to improve their performance. After all, those instructors who want a career in teaching don't have the time. Because they can't make much of a living with one part-time job, these individuals must piece together a course load from two or more schools in order to make ends meet. And that course load often changes from semester to semester, providing no sense of job security.
Then there are the part-time instructors who just want some extra cash. Why should they care about student success? They get paid for the course whether or not the students succeed. And since they just want the bump in income, performing at any next level isn't on their radar.
And let's not forget the full-time faculty. They aren't wondering if their financial needs will be met like many of their part-time associates, but the same bean counting perspective that created a majority of contingent faculty also influences advancement opportunities for full-time faculty. Again, it's about the money.
Without the motivation to do more, many instructors simply do the bare minimum to get by. Often, this approach leaves students with the short end of the stick, assuming they get anything useful at all.
The truth about where students can find solutions
Students can't do much about solving the problems associated with faculty demographics and administrative policies. But they can find solutions to their immediate learning problems with the modern wonder of the Internet. Instructors who really do care to help their students learn are providing all sorts of learning aids online.
I haven't forgotten the nightmare experience I had with statistics as an undergraduate. That's why I founded Aspire Mountain Academy, so that students can get the help they need to learn what they need to learn without the constant battles with frustration and without breaking the bank. If your statistics instructor is boring or just doesn't seem to care to help you, welcome to Aspire Mountain Academy. I can't promise that I can help everyone, but I can promise that I'll put my best into what I offer. Most students have found the materials I have compiled into my online course (Stat 101) at works for them. If you're one of those students, great! I'm glad I could help. If you don't find the help you need in what I offer, help me improve what I do by submitting a contact form to explain what I can do differently.