In 2009 we changed the way of teaching our first year statistics course at the University of Canterbury. This paper discusses the changes and presents results from student feedback. The major change in emphasis was to think ‘Why? not ‘How?’ An introductory survey collected student data and the information was used to explore students’ backgrounds and perceptions, to give personal context and relevancy. Teaching and learning is now a combination of lectures, on-line tutorials, computer-based testing, written assignments, and a written exam focused on critical thinking. This combination provides varied pathways of study, important for this large course with over 1,000 diverse students. Feedback from the students during and after the course shows they were very receptive and enthusiastic towards the changes.