About the book
A message from Andy about the book
The whole ‘embedding the statistics in a fictional story’ thing makes this book a bit unusual compared to a lot of statistics textbooks. I realize that a lot of students and tutors don’t like ‘unusual’, so here are some questions that I think some people might want to ask.
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?
Will Zach find Alice, the missing love of his life, and save the world? Will he survive the bridge of death? Can he escape the zombie horde? Statistically speaking the odds don’t look good …
Award-winning teacher and bestselling author Andy Field hasn't just broken the traditional textbook mould with his new, stunningly illustrated introduction to statistics, he has forged a statistical tale like no other.
Reluctant hero Zachary Slade wakes up to find that his soulmate Alice has vanished. To find her, he must solve a puzzle using the only clue he has – Alice’s unfinished research report. If only he hadn’t skipped class to form a band.
The more Zach unravels the enigma of reality, the more he senses that something is very wrong. Did Alice ever exist? Who is the mysterious Professor Milton? What is causing people to forget who they are? And why is everyone intent on teaching him statistics?
Join Zach on his bizarre journey … it will transform your understanding of statistics forever.
WHAT TOPICS DOES THE BOOK COVER?
- Why you need science
- Reporting research, variables and measurement
- Summarizing data
- Fitting models
- Presenting data
- Inferential statistics
- Robust estimation
- Hypothesis testing
- Modern approaches to theory testing
- The general linear model
- Comparing two means
- Comparing several means
- Factorial designs
WHO IS THE BOOK AIMED AT?
The book is aimed at anyone interested in learning statistical methods. It assumes no prior knowledge at all.
HOW DO I TEACH WITH A BOOK THAT HAS A FICTIONAL NARRATIVE?
Fundamentally, I’d teach with it the same way as with any other book. Most of the chapters have a very similar structure: section of story, section of statistics, section of story, section of statistics, section of story. So, in most chapters there are two large sections of statistics that are book-ended by story, and there’s a bit of story in the middle to offer some light relief. As such, it’s fairly easy to ignore the story if you want to. The sections of statistics are all written as conversations between the main character and various people he meets. The academic content is what you’d expect to find but presented as a conversation between a student (the main character) and a teacher (the particular character in the story who is teaching him). This sort of Socratic style is a good tool for teaching because the main character (hopefully) asks the same sorts of questions that students often want to ask. Of course, you should feel free to embrace the story if that suits your teaching style, and I could imagine giving lectures that begin by setting the scene of the story, or which end with the chapter cliff-hangers. I’d love to hear of people doing that, but ultimately you have to do what works for your teaching style.
CAN I DIP INTO THE BOOK?
Having a story running through the book means that it works best if you read it from cover to cover. The idea is that once you get into the story it acts as a motivator to read the book, and therefore the statistics parts. One of the major problems in teaching statistics, I think, is that people tend to dip into it without laying the foundations in the correct order. In a sense, the intentions of this book are to encourage you to learn things in a sensible order and build up your knowledge; in doing so you will (hopefully) understand the material better. However, I think you can dip in if you really want to because the chapters are structured in a fairly standard way (see my answer to How do I teach with a book that has a fictional narrative?) so you can read the sections relating to statistics without necessarily having to know what’s going on in the story. In my ideal world, though, you would start at the beginning and read until the end.