Power Slates

The great disconnect today in teaching statistics is the black box created by the computer. Many of us try to teach the concepts and the mathematics that form the foundation of statistics. It is the conceptual understanding of statistics that is important. In the recent past before computers, this was ensured in a way by the fact that students had to laboriously go through every step of the computations. For both homework and exams, we required that the students show their work.

Today computer programs do all of the computations for statistics. They are faster and more reliable (given no data input and command errors). No researcher today would not use a statistical program for his or her analysis.

However, computers have become a stumbling block to teaching statistics. They circumvent the process that many of us believe helps in the conceptual understanding of the statistics. They don't show their work and they display only rudimentary results with obscure abbreviations and little help. Even the most current versions seem to spit out the same line-printer results of batch processors of the past.

SPSS would flunk my final exam! Why? It doesn't show its work!

The PowerSlate is an idea of taking the graphic layout of a typical problem as an instructor would write it on the blackboard. It contains all of the steps of the problem in a linear order, sequential order from beginning to end.