Creating a Shiny app with Google login

Creating a Shiny application that enables user login can be useful for tailoring individual user experience and for analyzing user actions with profile-type data. With basic file I/O functions, it is possible to create a simple but insecure app that stores login names and passwords in text files. A much more secure alternative is to…

What is likelihood?

I am currently a TA for an introductory biostatistics sequence at JHSPH where we teach students about the essentials of regression analysis. A great question that came up at office hours last week was, “What is likelihood?” I love this question because it is so fundamental to statistical thought, seems very intuitive, but actually abounds in nuance. I found my answer…

Teaching real math with computers

As per a friend’s suggestion, I watched Conrad Wolfram’s TED talk on reforming mathematics education. He advocates increased use of computers in the classroom and, in particular, champions the idea of teaching math via programming. There were a lot of ideas both in and missing from his talk that I found interesting to think about.…

Adapting education style to improve relevance and practical skills

Part of my educational duties this past semester was as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate introductory biostatistics course. We went over the usual topics—calculating probabilities from tables, test statistics, hypothesis testing, linear and logistic regression—and I felt that the curriculum made a great effort to contextualize the material by organizing the content into goal-oriented…

Motivating the question

Apathy is the cancer of today’s classroom. Once it plants its nasty little head in a student’s mind, it can be one tough beast to eradicate. Complaints like “I don’t care about this” and “When would I even use this?” are frighteningly common in higher education and indicate a malady far worse than boredom: time wasted.…

Perspectives on the Interactive Mathematics Program

My pre-college mathematics education was probably different from most others. Instead of adopting the standard approach of teaching Algebra I and II, Geometry, and Trigonometry, my school district took up the Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP), a problem-centric approach to learning the essential material from these subjects. The program was split into 4 courses, each the…

Why statistics can be scary

I’ve been planning for some time to start this blog mainly as a way to give intuition to people untrained in statistics about what statisticians do and why. For the last few weeks, I’ve been gathering ideas, and I’ve found that in the process I’ve had to be a lot more reflective about fundamental aims…