Stat 303: The Art and Practice of Teaching Statistics

Exemplary Lectures on Pedagogy, and Pedagogy Exemplified through Lectures

Katherine C. Cohen/Harvard Staff Photographer Harvard Gazette, November 16, 2010

Stat 303, The Art and Practice of Teaching Statistics, was introduced by the Statistics Department in 2005. This course is required for all first year PhD students in the department, and each year has been co-taught by Xiao-Li Meng (former Department Chair) and a junior faculty member, with active involvement and support from the Bok Center. [Exception: in 2010-2011, the course was taught by Joseph Blitzstein (Professor of the Practise), who co-taught the course with Xiao-Li Meng twice in previous years.]

The first goal of Stat 303 is to prepare students to be effective teaching fellows, particularly for the department's introductory courses (taken by over 800 students per year in recent years). But Stat 303 also serves a much broader purpose: teaching students how to communicate clearly and effectively, and that a deep understanding of statistical thinking -- how to "connect the dots" rather than just memorizing formulas and procedures -- is crucial both in becoming successful teachers and in becoming successful researchers. Students also learn that teaching can be fun and rewarding; click here for a creative video recap!

Each year, Stat 303 has a special Grand Finale Lecture to conclude the year. The topics have spanned a very wide range, as seen in the abstracts below, but all have been linked by showing how to engage an audience, and by demonstrating passionate, persuasive pedagogical and intellectual insights.




April 23, 2019 Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper Professor of American History Facts, Numbers, Data: A Brief History of Evidence
April 24, 2018 D. James Greiner, Professor of Law Running Randomized Field Experiments in the Law
April 25, 2017 Shigehisa Kuriyama, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and History of Science

Magic Lessons: communication as the art of illusion

April 26, 2016

Roger B. PorterBusiness and Government

Presidential Decision Making: How Decisions Are Made in the White House

April 28, 2015

Homi Bhabha, Humanities

On Trying Not to Re-invent the Wheel

April 22, 2014

Karen Thornber, Comparative Literature

Literature and Health: Statistics, Stigmas, Struggles

April 23, 2013

Alyssa Goodman, Astronomy

Seeing More in Data

April 16, 2012

Harry R. Lewis, Computer Science

Pedagogical Full Circle

April 25, 2011

Judith D. Singer, Education

Anatomy of a Successful Applied Statistics Course: Lessons from 25 Years of Teaching

April 26, 2010

Eric Mazur, Physics; Applied Physics

Confessions of a Converted Lecturer

April 27, 2009

Allan Brandt, History of Medicine; History of Science

The Tobacco Pandemic: History, Culture, and Science

April 28, 2008

Robert A. Lue, Molecular and Cellular Biology

Transforming the Freshman Curriculum in the Life Sciences

April 30, 2007

Benedict H. Gross, Mathematics

Archimedes and the Area of the Circle

May 1, 2006

Peter K. Bol, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Spatial Ontologies in China's Past

Additional Notes