How is College Intro Stats Different from AP Stats?

Erica Chauvet is a Statistics Professor at Waynesburg University and a former high school AP Statistics teacher. She is on the writing team for both The Practice of Statistics and Statistics and Probability with Applications. Erica also works as a freelance writer for several other curriculum companies. She has been an AP Statistics Exam reader for the past 13 years where she enjoys hosting the 1.96-mile 95% Confidence (Prediction) Fun Run as well as the highly anticipated Funstravaganza (closing ceremonies), among other social events.

I have had the honor of teaching AP Stats for 12 years and College Intro Stats for 12 semesters. I love both environments, but for very different reasons.

What is it like to teach College Intro Stats?

Imagine not having to run to the bathroom in the 4-5 minutes you have between classes. Imagine having the flexibility to set your own curriculum. Imagine not having the pressure of motivating your students to score well on the exam. No parent emails. No lesson plans to submit. Sounds, like a dream, doesn’t it? Also imagine only seeing your students 2 or 3 days per week for 15 weeks and then they are on to the next adventure. You can only scratch the surface on the topics because you want to make sure you hit all the basics. Instead of spending 180 days × about 40 minutes per day = about 120 hours with your students you have less than 1/3 of that time. Choices need to be made because you cannot do it all.

How does College Stats differ from AP Stats?

They differ a lot! In college we are not governed by the almighty College Board Course and Exam Description, so every professor can and may have a different way of doing things. I see my students 2 days a week, 75-minute classes, for 15 weeks. I use the popular AP Stats book The Practice of Statistics (TPS) 6th edition Classic. Here’s a glimpse of the pace and depth which my students learn Intro Stats:

Week 1: Chapter 1 of TPS – Focus: graphical displays and numerical summaries. We don’t have time for segmented bar charts and relationships within two-way tables.

Week 2: Chapter 2 of TPS – Focus: Uniform and Normal distributions. We do not go over assessing normality.

Week 3: Review Chapter 1-2 and Test on Chapters 1-2

Week 4: Chapter 3 of TPS – Focus: Scatterplots, correlation, regression. We skip Section 3.3 which covers nonlinear relationships.

Week 5: Chapter 4 of TPS – All of it. The students struggle to grasp all of these concepts in two class periods.

Week 6: Review of Chapter 3-4 and Test on Chapters 3-4.

Week 7: Chapter 7 of TPS – Sampling Distributions. Yes, you read that right. We skip Chapters 5 and 6. I teach an Intro Statistics course, not a probability and statistics course. So, we skip right over Chapters 5 and 6. This means I have to take extra care when explaining the 10% condition for inference.

Week 8: Chapter 8 and 9 of TPS – Confidence intervals for a population proportion and a population mean…just the one sample inference procedures. Each of these topics is covered in one class period.

Week 9: Review of Chapter 7, 8, and 9 and Test on Chapters 7, 8, and 9.

Week 10: Chapter 10/11 of TPS – Significance Test for a population proportion and a population mean

Week 11: All of the two sample/group inference procedures – Confidence interval and a significance test for a difference in two population proportions and a confidence interval and a significance test for a difference in two population means (as well as paired inference procedures).

Week 12: Review of Chapter 10-11 and Test on Chapters 10-11

Week 13: Chapter 12 of TPS – Just the chi-squared procedures

Week 14: Cumulative Review of the entire semester

Week 15: Final Exams

What are the philosophical differences in the way stats is taught in college vs. in high school?

When I taught AP Stats, I loved doing projects with my students. I would tend to spend 2-3 weeks per chapter, which left time for really making sure that the students understood the material in great