Minutes of the Isolated Statisticians Meeting
Baltimore JSMs, August 8, 1999.

Respectfully submitted on 1/9/00 by Katherine Halvorsen and Dex Whittinghill.  [Moderator’s note: Katherine generously took the notes and gave them to me right after the meeting.  It is I who foolishly waited until January to write them up.]

The meeting was opened by Dex Whittinghill.  To get on the Isolated Statisticians e-mail list contact Jeff Witmer of Oberlin C. at his new e-mail address: Jeff.Witmer@Oberlin.edu.

There were 43 people in attendance, including David Moore (Past-President) and Judy Dill (of the ASA office).

Item 1.  What do folks do in the Calculus-based introductory statistics course?  Posed by Andre’ Lubecke.

Andre’ said that for ‘her’ course the prerequisite is 2 semesters of calculus, no multivariate.  The audience: math majors & engineers.  Don Bentley suggested that the engineer’s needs will [should?] drive the course.  Anne (****or Ann, who?****) teaches statistical thinking, primarily.  David Moore asked “Do you have an obligation to teach probability to engineers?”  They require this, but at Purdue they teach the engineers statistics and don’t use much calculus.

Bob Hayden recommended a Wiley book: ****Bob, what book )for math majors or engineers) was this?  Certainly not the Berinstein book?****  Allan Rossman described a new project that Beth Chance, Karla Ballman, and he are working on to produce curricular materials for this audience.  Gudmund Iversen said that he can’t find a good book for this audience!

Item 2.  There was an article in the Feb '99 American Statistician about undergraduate majors in statistics.  Maybe we could discuss this subject and expand it to minors or concentrations in statistics.  Posed by Tom Moore.

A quick poll of the audience showed the existence of 2 stat majors, 6 stat concentrations, and about 10 stat minors in math departments.  George Cobb described the Mount Holyoke major in stat.  Terry King described the stat major at Northwest Missouri State.  Mike Frey said that at Bucknell they have a minor for non-math majors, and a concentration for math majors.

It was also asked if we need an under-grad major in stat?  Katherine Halvorsen said that she found the articles persuasive – there are jobs there.  Anne Sevin said that her Framingham State students found jobs easily with their stat major.  Don Bentley said that his goal is to prepare student for grad school, but that his dept just dropped real analysis course requirement.  Although ads don’t usually ask for statisticians, the Census Bureau & Mayo Clinic wants people with under-grad stat background.  Brian Kotz said that in his under-grad stat major he had to use his stat skills to do data analysis & make presentations – those courses helped him teach AP stat.  Bob Hayden reminded (?) us that Winona put together stat major & had no statisticians on the faculty at the time.  They hired Bob Hogg to help them set up major (now they have statisticians on staff).

Dick Scheaffer related that the ASA had a 1- day planning conference to see what ASA could do about the under-grad curriculum (10 person meeting: Dick, George, Rosemary Roberts & others).  NSF may fund a conference on enhancing under-grad education (possibly with workshops & a paper series).  [Moderator’s note:  one reason to wait for doing the minutes is to change the “may”s to “will”s.  The ASA’s Undergraduate Statistical Education Initiative (USEI) will have an invited workshop at the end of April, a series of position papers, and a one day conference (Sat-Sun before the JSMs in Indianapolis).]

Item 3.  The hiring situation as it relates to statisticians at liberal arts colleges and other isolated institutions.  How can the IsoStat group be helpful, both to those trying to hire statisticians as well as to statisticians looking for positions?  We would benefit from hearing about stories of successful searches from both employers' and candidates' perspectives.  Proposed by Allan Rossman & Lianfen Qian.

Allan explained his problem hiring this last year.  Gudmund related how Swarthmore wrote to grad schools asking for “almost- through Ph.D.s.”  That’s how they got a 1-year replacement for Phil Everson’s sabbatical.  One suggestion was to go back to your own grad school.  Albyn Jones said to try to get statistician from outside your institution involved in the search.

Don B. said that to get statisticians you need to recruit in the Fall [August JSMs] for the following Fall.  The Math meeting is in Jan is the best time to interview but ASA doesn’t have simultaneous meetings in January [and not many young statisticians are there].  Mary Parker suggested the ASA/MAA Joint Committee [web page] might be a place to reach mathematicians – they/it can list stat jobs and teach mathematicians how to hire statisticians.

Don B. suggested post–docs/instructorships at liberal arts or 4-year colleges, but an objection to this is that those ‘young’ statisticians need a reduced teaching load so they can publish.

Suggested places to advertise besides the MAA employment mechanisms are the Amstat News and the Chronicle of Higher Education [Moderator’s addition].

Item 4.  The Isolated Teachers of Statistics group has met twice.  Many of ‘you’ are on that list as well.  What do we all think of combining the two lists for the exchange of teaching ideas?  Also, what other e-mail lists are useful to people?  Proposed by Dex Whittinghill.

John McKenzie said that one list is enough, and the discussion on the list(s) should be archived & available.  One list would make mathematicians aware of stat issues.  Bob thinks it might be a good idea for mathematicians to see our discussions about tenure & promotion issues for statisticians in math depts.  Anne Sevin suggested that one list might inhibit mathematicians from asking questions.

Brian Yandell, Editor of Amstat Online (and the 44th attendee?), asked the group at large how the ASA can better serve the Isolated Statisticians with the ASA server.  He said that the IsoStat-ers could have an archive.  He also suggested that the ASA/NCTM Joint Committee on Curriculum in Statistics and Probability may be of interest to isostat group & share issues.  [Moderator’s note:  Brian Y. has been in discussion with Jeff Witmer and me ask what he can offer us.  Some rules for ASA webpages and list serves may be too restrictive for our tastes!]

Allan R. noted that the MAA will soon create special interest groups (SIGMAAs) and that a SIGMAA on statistics education might be a natural outgrowth of the isolated teachers of statistics group and a way to formalize its existence.  [Moderator’s note:  The SIGMAAs will come into existence shortly.]

Mary P. offered use of the ASA/MAA Joint Committee home page and its link from the ASA home page.

Item 5.  Discussion of web-based assignments.  One of us wouldn't mind some suggestions on improving these assignments: instructions, grading, etc.  What other web-based assignments to people use?

David Moore has 550 students in an introductory course.  They get only 1 piece of paper rest of course is on line: online syllabus, online assignments (e.g. visit sites such as the census bureau, Gallup, New England J. Med., applets), even grades!  Students like having resources on-line, but don’t like on-line exercises (probably because they can’t do assignments at last minute).  Feel free to go to www.stat.purdue, undergraduate courses, stat 113, Fall 1999 course page.

Andre’ L. has her second semester class go to the DASL site and do written and oral reports using the data and stories there.  Students often don’t understand the data sets  (she asks them to describe the data).

John M. says most of the publishers realize this is a new market; e.g. web CT sells software to help teacher setup web-based course.

Bob H. recommends Finding Statistics Online by Paula Berinstein, Cyber Age Books, 1998.  Paperback, $29.95.  It is a book for libraries, in the computer books section of bookstore.  To quote Bob’s e-mail to me: “This is not for sites about statistics but rather sites that provide data on all kinds of things.  In addition to giving sites on a wide variety of topics, it also contains a fair amount of info on searching the web for anything.”

Item 6.  Teaching on the Web, web assisted courses and problems with them.  Do we have anybody who has done it, and can they share their experiences?  Posed by Rahul Parsa.

Because time was pressing, and Rahul was not present, attendees were referred to Session #160.

Item 7.  Announcements and Idea-Exchange:

a. Classroom day ‘is’ on Monday, Session 4000, starts 8:30 a.m.

b. Dick DeVeaux is JSM Program Chair for 2001. He welcomes ideas.

c. Mid Atlantic IsoStat group is to meet before Memorial Day next year.

d. Many of us use the "Guessing Correlations" interactive site as a class exercise/example.  Let’s share other good interactive sites.  Send Dex interactive sites info.  [None received to date.  At this point send to everyone.]

e. Consider experiments in an algebra-based intro-course.  One of us added such experiments this year.  What experiments do others do with great success?  Send Dex experiments for algebra-base course in intro stat. [None received to date. At this point send to everyone.]

f. Robin Lock said that JSE (Journal of Statistics Education) wants names of potential reviewers.

g. NEISM group will meet next June(?)

h. Terry King is the Stat Ed Newsletter editor.  He welcomes announcements for the newsletter.  Send to Tlking@mail.nwmissouri.edu.

i. Jerry Moreno asked all to drop by the Stat Ed booth at JSU on Mezzanine level –

j. Allan Rossman gave a very brief report on the strong possibility that MAA will soon be instituting "special interest groups" (similar to ASA sections), with "statistics" being a natural group to form.  [Moderator’s note:  See recent/following e-mail.]