STATISTICAL EDUCATION FEATURED AT NATIONAL DEPARTMENT CHAIRS COLLOQUIUM

Christine E. McLaren
Moorhead State University

Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
Volume 1, Number 1 (Winter 1995)


Each year the Board on Mathematical Sciences (BMS)of the National Research Council sponsors a colloquium for college and university mathematics department chairs. This year's annual Department Chairs Colloquium was held on October 28-29 in Arlington, Virginia with the theme, "Shaping a New Contract with the University and with Society".

A plenary session organized by John Tucker, Director of the BMS, was titled "Highly Effective Statistics Programs: Three Case Studies". Its purpose was to present information and materials about three different but individually successful programs in undergraduate statistics with the objective that relevant aspects could be adapted for use in statistics and general mathematics programs at other institutions. Speakers included Donald Bentley from Pomona College, Christine McLaren of Moorhead State University, and Bob Stephenson of Iowa State University.

Each speaker described the statistics program at his or her institution. Don discussed reasons why Pomona College, a small liberal arts college in California, has a reputation for producing a disproportionately large number of mathematics majors who obtain the PhD degree in statistics. These reasons include mathematics faculty support of the statistics curriculum and opportunities for student involvement in biomedical industry consulting projects.

Christine's presentation concerned the use of undergraduate research in statistics at Moorhead State University, a primarily undergraduate institution with approximately 7000 students in Minnesota. She discussed the apprenticeship, internship, and assistanceship programs which have provided students with training and experience in collaborative statistical projects.

Bob gave details concerning the undergraduate program at Iowa State University, a midwestern land grant institution of around 25,000 students. Although the Statistics Department is best known for its graduate program, major factors in the undergraduate program's success include the wide variety of courses offered and the atmosphere created by faculty involved with undergraduates.

Since the majority of the audience were mathematicians rather than statisticians, the speakers presented concerns that are common among statisticians who find themselves professionally isolated in a mathematics department. The importance of incorporating data into the introductory courses was stressed, along with the need to have instructors who are experienced in dealing with data. The speakers also emphasized that statisticians need to be involved in the planning of statistical course curriculum.

The colloquium was supported by core funding of the Board on

Mathematical Sciences provided by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, Department of Energy, National Security Agency, National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. The Statistical Education Section of the ASA also provided support. For further information contact:

Chris McLaren
until June 2, 1995 at
Department of Mathematics
University of Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia
FAX: 61-7-870-2272
cem@maths.uq.oz.au


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