I have taught basic college level statistics. I noticed that it is harder for students to learn the concepts unless they have some understanding about the data being analyzed.
1) create a dataset describing something that you know – this can be car data, baseball statistics, music CD sales, etc.
Understanding what each piece of data describes (e.g., sticker price of the car, a baseball player’s stats from a given year, the sales of a music CD). Include information that classifies the information (e.g., year and type of car, foreign or domestic, size) as well as numeric information.
Use data that does not vary by time. Popular data for my students included rents for apartments in their neighborhoods and the state level test scores by schools-they wanted to know if girls performed better than boys or if students in the suburbs performed better than students in the city. The internet is a great source. Put the data in a spreadsheet. For example, if you choose rents, the first column can include the size of the place (studio, 1 bedroom), the second column the neighborhood, the third column can indicate if utilities are included, the fourth column has its monthly rent. The more data the better. The important idea is that you know something about the information so you can take the statistical results and put them into words.
2) Take your stat book and do all of the problems using your data. Some problems may not really apply but try it.
3) The more that you know about the data, the easier it is to interpret the statistical results. If you are working with rents, you can ask, are studios more expensive than 1 bedrooms, are rents higher if utility is included. If you a renter, you can also use the information to find your next apartment. With baseball stats, you can find out if the 2006 team batting average for the Boston Red Sox was statistically different than the Chicago White Sox. With car data, are foreign SUVs more expensive than domestic.
4) If you are taking a class, you can ask the instructor if you can do all of your problems with your data. I have allowed this and I know of other students who were able to do this.