Education

Stats for Scientists

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Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 629
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6120.629-b

Most science students receive their math instruction through the math department. Not surprisingly, math professors teach the math itself, without describing how it could be applied in a scientific setting. What would happen if instead, science departments began teaching core math skills in the context of science curriculums? Schlotter suggests that in chemistry, this question can be evaluated once a statistics curriculum addressing the specific needs of chemistry majors has been established. The main challenge in developing such a curriculum is to truly keep topics to a core minimum; a difficult task considering that the availability of computers and software has not only increased the amount and frequency of routine statistical tests, but has also put a larger emphasis on students needing to understand how, and when, to apply statistical concepts appropriately. Although a tradeoff exists in removing chemistry topics from the curriculum to make room for statistics instruction, Schlotter argues that without it students will have little more understanding of statistical tests than where to find the buttons on their calculators. A draft version of a statistics curriculum for chemists is presented, and Schlotter welcomes comments from the science community.

J. Chem. Educ. 90, 51 (2013).

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