Guidelines for Statistics Education Get an Update

Megan Mocko, University of Florida, and Michelle Everson, The Ohio State University

Guidelines for Statistics Education Get an Update

Megan Mocko is a master lecturer at the University of Florida. Her focus is teaching introductory statistics in multiple formats: face-to-face, hybrid, and online. She studies techniques to improve learning for students with learning disabilities and students in the online learning environment, as well as teaching with technology.

Michelle Everson is a professor and program specialist of statistics at The Ohio State University and former editor (2015) of the Journal of Statistics Education. Since earning her PhD in 2002, she has been teaching introductory and intermediate statistics courses. She is particularly interested in distance education and ways to actively engage students in online learning environments.

In July 2016, the revised Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) 2016 College Report was endorsed by the ASA Board. The GAISE revision committee consisted of 11 members, and these individuals surveyed the larger statistics education community, led panel discussions at USCOTS and JSM, and delivered various webinars to gather information to inform the writing of GAISE.

The updated report includes the same six recommendations for teaching introductory statistics at the college level as can be found in the original 2005 GAISE College Report. Important changes in wording were made across these recommendations, with two new emphases added to the first recommendation.

  1. Teach statistical thinking.
    • Teach statistics as an investigative process of problem solving and decision making.
    • Give students experience with multivariable thinking.
  2. Focus on conceptual understanding.
  3. Integrate real data with a context and purpose.
  4. Foster active learning.
  5. Use technology to explore concepts and analyze data.
  6. Use assessments to improve and evaluate student learning.

In addition to the inclusion of these new emphases, the original goals for students in introductory statistics courses were re-written in the form of learning objectives and two new goals were added. The nine goals in the revised report are as follows:

  1. Students should become critical consumers of statistically based results reported in popular media, recognizing whether reported results reasonably follow from the study and analysis conducted.
  2. Students should be able to recognize questions for which the investigative process in statistics would be useful and answer questions using the investigative process.
  3. Students should be able to produce graphical displays and numerical summaries and interpret what graphs do and do not reveal.
  4. Students should recognize and be able to explain the central role of variability in the field of statistics.
  5. Students should recognize and be able to explain the central role of randomness in designing studies and drawing conclusions.
  6. Students should gain experience with how statistical models, including multivariable models, are used.
  7. Students should demonstrate an understanding of, and ability to use, basic ideas of statistical inference, both hypothesis tests and interval estimation, in a variety of settings.
  8. Students should be able to interpret and draw conclusions from standard output from statistical software packages.
  9. Students should demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues associated with sound statistical practice.

The last two goals are new. They align with the increasing importance of these topics in statistical practice and public discourse. To make room for these new topics, a list of topics to omit or reduce in a first course was added to the main body of the document. In addition, the report has expanded appendices that provide multiple resources and examples to help instructors meet the GAISE recommendations and goals. The appendices focus on the following:

  • Evolution of introductory statistics and emergence of statistics education resources
  • Multivariable thinking
  • Activities, projects, and data sets
  • Examples of using technology
  • Examples of assessment items
  • Learning environments

The full report is available at

Following the ASA endorsement of the report, the GAISE revision committee has focused on sharing the report with the larger community of statistics educators. Allan Rossman delivered a presentation at the November 2016 American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) meeting, and an ASA webinar presented by three members of the revision committee took place in December 2016 (

At the 2017 United States Conference on Teaching Statistics (USCOTS), five members of the revision committee led two breakout sessions in which participants were given the opportunity to experience active learning with real data as part of a mini data fest. Each breakout session was broken into five groups, and each group worked with a different data set. The data sets focused on youth health, airline flights, lacrosse, missing children, and highway fatalities. Each group was asked to explore multivariate relationships within the data set and come up with examples of multivariate relationships that could be used in an introductory course. Participants used many platforms to explore the data, including R, SAS, Minitab, iNZight, Statcrunch, and TinkerPlots.

The five data sets used (including data dictionaries) and an overview slide for the breakout sessions can be found on the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) website at

On May 22, three members of the revision team and four panelists from community colleges (Monica Dabos, Joe Gerda, and Kathy Kubo from College of Canyons and Rebecca Wong from West Valley College) presented a joint webinar with AMATYC. The panelists answered questions such as “What do our current students need to be productive members in the workforce?” “How did the panelists get started making changes?” and “How can the new GAISE report help with change?” The webinar is posted at, along with a copy of the slides.

GAISE Committee Members

Robert Carver, Stonehill College
Michelle Everson (co-chair), The Ohio State University
John Gabrosek, Grand Valley State University
Ginger Holmes Rowell, Middle Tennessee State University
Nicholas Horton, Amherst College
Robin Lock, St. Lawrence University
Megan Mocko (co-chair), University of Florida
Allan Rossman, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Paul Velleman, Cornell University
Jeffrey Witmer, Oberlin College
Beverly Wood, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

An (upcoming or recent) article in CHANCE magazine ( gives more insight into the process of revising the GAISE College Report, includes more discussion about the key recommendations, and ends with some challenges for the community.