Step 1.2 - What techniques or concepts will students learn?

Write a list of ideas for techniques and concepts that you want to teach in the course. As with the previous question, don't worry about whether they are good or bad ideas, and don't worry about the order. Filtering and sorting comes later.


From a course on human resource analytics. This example references where an idea came from.

  • How to compare high- and low-performing groups (see Work Rules! pages 201, 343)
  • How to identify the most effective recruiting channel (how does this generalize?)
  • How to determine what's driving (attrition, high/low performance, etc.)

From a course on generalized additive models. This example distinguishes concepts from skills and techniques, and explicitly rejects ideas by specifying things to leave out.


  • Splines, Basis Functions
  • Model formulas
    • Additivity vs Interactions
  • Smoothing
  • Penalization


  • Fitting a GAM to data
  • Checking that a GAM fits well
  • Visualizing a GAM
  • Making predictions
  • Selecting predictor variables (maybe too much)
  • Fitting, checking, visualizing a model with binary outcomes

Things to leave out

  • It seems a bridge too far to go too far into the "generalized" part of GAMs in this course and discuss much about outcome distributions, at least beyond a binary example. This could be a bonus section with "This will be easier if you have learned about GLMs", but I don't know if that works within your infrastructure.
  • It also may make sense to skip most of the different types of basis functions and splines one could potentially use.


How many items should I list?

This varies a lot from course to course, but is typically between two and twenty items.

Good ideas

Add references

If you come across good ideas for things to teach, make a note of where you found those ideas. For example, you can link to other syllabuses, or note pages of books that had a ideas on things to teach.

Be exhaustive

Don't be afraid to list bad ideas: it's better to have too many ideas at this stage than too few. One trick is to keep listing items until they start to get silly. You can include these items to ensure that you Curriculum Lead is concentrating when they review your work.

Common problems and their solutions

I can't think of any ideas

  • If you know what technology you want to use, try reading the documentation for it.

  • Read through the contents pages of books on the subject. Amazon's "Look inside" feature is useful for this.

  • Wikipedia has a big list of statistical articles.

How will this be reviewed?

Your Curriculum Lead will discuss your responses to the brainstorming questions. They will not be formally reviewed (though they provide important context for reviewers).

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