It may be my job to revise our introductory statistics
course for undergraduate biologists this year. The current version is
more or less the same as the undergraduate statistics course I took
nearly 20 years ago, and about as strongly disliked by students. I'd be
very grateful for some suggestions:
-does anyone know of an undergraduate statistics course for biologists
that the students actually like? We have to teach this course to about
135 students in 12
lectures and 6 three-hour workshops over 6 weeks. About half our
students might have A-level mathematics and a few will have A-level
statistics, but we have to assume that most of them are starting from
-what textbooks are popular? We currently use Practical Statistics for
Field Biology by Fowler, Cohen and Jarvis. The more motivated and
numerate students complain that it's not challenging enough, while the
less motivated ones probably don't read it anyway.
I've looked at some others including Crawley (Statistics: an
introduction using R) and Grafen and Hails (Modern statistics for the
life sciences) but both are probably too advanced for this course.
Ideally, I'd like a textbook which is relevant to students interested in
areas such as bioinformatics as well as field biology.
-does anyone have experience of teaching using R? We currently use
Minitab, which is easy, but it seems inefficient because sooner
or later (either during third year project work or higher degree work)
students will find that they can't do what they need in Minitab and need
to learn a new software package. I suspect that having to type commands
will be too big a barrier to using R.
Thanks for any advice
School of Biological Sciences
University of Liverpool
+44 (0)151 795 4399