ISOSTAT Minutes

August 3, 2008

Ann Cannon (note-taker)

 

Shonda Kuiper began the meeting at 7 pm with the usual round of introductions.  49 people were in attendance (this appears to be the second largest crowd, with 55 attending in Chicago in 1996)!

Carol Blumberg announced that various government agencies will soon be looking for many people with mathematical and statistical skills.  She noted that 1/3 or more of the current people in these types of positions will retire in the next few years.  She would like faculty to encourage their undergraduates to consider internships and careers with the federal government.  She also encouraged faculty to be in touch with her if students apply to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (where she works) so that she can follow up on their application.

Nick Horton, Smith College, discussed what he sees as a great opportunity for US undergraduate students interested in Statistics and study abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.  He also invited people interested in creating a repository for study abroad possibilities for students interested in statistics to be in touch with him.  Finally, he is looking for collaborators to work with to take classes abroad – probably during January when many schools have special terms that would allow them to take a class abroad.  Anyone interested in any of these ideas should be in touch with Nick.

An announcement was made on Jackie Miller’s behalf about the idea of starting a support group for those teaching statistics in an on-line environment.  A show of hands was taken and there were very few in the audience who are currently teaching on-line or are interested in it.  If there are people interested in such a support group, they should be in touch with Jackie at The Ohio State University.

Gunnar Steffanson (sp?), University of Iceland, presented information on course materials that are available on their website that can be freely used.  The materials are open content and open source and basically constitute an on-line course. They report that people from at least 18 different countries are currently using and submitting material.  They are always looking for more people to submit material, with the understanding that the original authors name will appear on it, but the material is free to be edited and used by others.

Pat Humphrey announced that the AP Stat reading is always looking for more readers to score exams.  Anyone interested in becoming a reader should go to the ETS website and submit an application.  If you have questions about the reading, be in touch with Chris Franklin, chief reader for statistics, at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Pat Humphrey also put a plug in for the talks supported by the SIGMAA Stat Ed at the Joint Math Meetings in January in Washington, D.C.   Topics will include hiring, tenuring and promoting statisticians in a math department; a review board for resources found on the web;  and how will AP stat and k-12 statistics affect programs in college statistics and how to get such programs to succeed.

John McKenzie suggested that we need to do a better job of outreach to other isolated statisticians.  Many cannot afford to come to JSM and/or do not know that we exist.  We should be trying to get together regionally as much as possible, perhaps using the New England Isostat group as a guide.  They have gathered yearly for at least 10 years now and have a very strong group.  The New England chapter does help sponsor the meeting by providing funds for lunch.

John McKenzie then began a discussion of the use of PowerPoint slides in the classroom.  A quick survey of those in attendance suggested that about 30% or so currently use PowerPoint in their classrooms.  Several ideas were discussed:

·         Put only the major points on the slides (and post them later)

·         Many students don’t know how to take notes so they need the bullet points – give them the slides ahead of time.

·         On the other hand, some say don’t give the slides to students ahead of time – use the slides as we used to use the blackboard

·         One suggestion was to put the complement of what they should write down on the slides – this gives the students lots to fill in and may reinforce cognition.

·         Some suggested that Word was far easier to use than PowerPoint and that neither works particularly well because the students spend their whole time writing and not paying attention.

·         BYU apparently has done a randomized study comparing the use of PowerPoint to overheads.  They found no difference in final exam scores.  But they did find a difference in student perception (PowerPoint was liked more).  These results have not been published anywhere yet – stay tuned.

·         One suggestion was to use LaTeX and specifically leave gaps on the handouts (something that LaTeX will do) so that students have to fill in from the slides.

·         We will begin to see students expecting PowerPoint lectures and textbooks are starting to provide them.  We should insert our own slides into them.  We should also share slides with adjuncts to help keep their courses on track.

Joy Jordan reminded the group about the website www.isostat.org.  On the website you will find:

·         A link on the website to get on the list serve

·         An archive of the discussions on the list serve

·         Agendas and Minutes from past meetings

·         List of isolated statisticians by state

·         Resources on professional development and teaching

Suggested additions to the website include:

·         List of REU’s for students with even only 1 or 2 stat courses

·         Relevant junior year abroad programs

Shonda began a discussion about whether we want to become a formally recognized group within the ASA.  Our choices would be a Special Interest Group (the beginning route to becoming a section) or an Other ASA group.  Ron Wasserstein reminded us that we should really be thinking about this from the “what are we looking for” avenue and then see if joining the ASA as a group will get us what we are looking for.  At this point in time, the only Other Group is the Department Chairs of Programs in Statistics and Biostatistics.  Becoming and Other Group would tie us into the ASA so that we might be able to become part of the budget process (and actually have a budget), but this would not be guaranteed.  Another possible plus would be to be able to create affordable continuing education opportunities (i.e. courses at JSM or webinars).  It would also give us more formality – if we decided to request a member initiative grant from the board, we would be more likely to get it as a formal group within ASA.  And we might find it easier to find outside funding if we could say we are part of the ASA.  One point made was that it could give us more visibility on the ASA website, but that then there would have to be other isolated groups for other types of statisticians (and also it should be made known that this is not for “people who choose to isolate themselves…J).  This move would require a charter and the members of the group would likely have to be ASA members.  A quick poll of those in the room suggested that about 50% were in favor of looking into this.  A few people were clearly not in favor.  Shonda, Dex and Jeff will send an email out to the list to see what we want to do and will follow up with the idea.

Robin Lock announced that the ASA-MAA committee got a membership initiative to set up a website profiling the careers of young statisticians with only a bachelor’s degree.  The website will have about 100 profiles including what they do and what advice they would give other undergraduates.

Paul Roback, St. Olaf College, announced that St. Olaf will be looking for a tenure track statistician this year. 

Don Bentley announced arrangements for dinner after the Wednesday evening Student’s Tea and Stat Ed section business meeting.

Carolyn Cuff noted that the ASA Open Meeting previously scheduled at JSM on Sunday evening at 6 has not been cancelled.  There was discussion about moving our meeting up to 6 pm next year so that we can go out to dinner afterwards.

Adam Molnar, Bellarmine University, announced that Bellarmine will be looking for a tenure track statistician with particular interest in statistical literacy and social justice.

Dex Whittinhill, Rowan University, announced that Rowan will be conducting a tenure track search for a statistician this year.

Shonda Kuiper, Grinnell College, announced that Grinnell will be conducting a tenure track search for a  statistician this year.

Shonda then adjourned the meeting at I don’t remember what time J

Respectfully submitted,

Ann Cannon