As a math teacher, you’ve most likely encountered the trepidation or math “anxiety” common in today’s students. Teaching statistics presents its own set of challenges.  Many adults don’t know how to read a graph or make inferences from a chart. How can we instruct our students to grasp these concepts? The following ideas will hopefully lend you some insights.  students and statistics

Here are some ideas, adapted from this online resource:

Minute Papers

Minute Papers are a quick and relatively painless way to test student knowledge. When teaching statistics, monitoring student progress over the course of one class helps avoid bad surprises about exam scores and final grades. They could be used before class starts, to see which students might need additional help during class, or after class as an “Exit Ticket” to test the comprehension students have of the day’s lesson.

Case Studies

Using Case Studies, especially real-life examples, can make statistics more applicable and relevant for students. A 2002 study found that using case studies resulted in students being more motivated, more active in their learning, and it also increased ownership of their work. It allowed students to see the real-world value of statistics.

Computer Connections

Blended Learning (the integration of traditional and technology-based learning) can be a great way to get students more engaged. When teaching with IT in mind, it’s especially important to incorporate technology into the lesson plan. This IXL website contains some fun, easy and user-friendly games for secondary students.


It might seem obvious, but using humor in your teaching can really help students relax (and retain information). You can use humor as a mini-break during class to relieve stress and let students process information. Demonstrating an enthusiasm for math and statistics, especially on the first day, can help students let go of their statistics-anxiety.

Other Things for Students to Consider:

  • Statistics is more logic than math. Introductory statistics really doesn’t contain any math
  • Learning statistics will allow students to be in more control of their lives. Being able to read and interpret data will help them not only in their IT jobs, but also when navigating the world of finance, insurance and stocks
  • Knowing statistics will help students be better decision makers

Additional Resources

  • This website, IXL, contains exhaustive practice tools for students in a colorful and user-friendly design. Students can complete up to 20 practice questions a day for free, but a more complete version is available to you for $199/month. This Teacher-oriented subscription allows you to track and monitor student performance on the site and also contains a State Standards feature that details which of the IXL subjects correspond to your state’s standards and tips on how to increase scores on these state tests
  • This Dartmouth website contains several studies, with clear explanations, that deal with statistics
  • This Department of Education website contains tools, tips and resources for teaching data analysis