Newsletter of the Section on Statistical Education Section of the American Statistical Association

Contents of Volume 4 Number 2:

  • Message from the Section Chair
  • Editors
  • Attention K-12 School Members
  • Subscription Information
  • Statistics Education Sessions/Roundtables - Dallas 98 by Jerry Moreno and Brad Hartlaub
  • On the Road for ASA and Statistical Education by David S. Moore
  • Spring 1998 in STATS by Terry King
  • Pre-Stat Conference
  • ASA Gives Input to Updating the NCTM Standards by Tom Moore
  • Looking Ahead to JSM 99 by Brad Hartlaub
  • Public Statistics Day 1998 by Roxy Peck
  • Best Contributed Paper by Ron Wasserstein
  • Distance Education in the Department of Statistics at Iowa State University by W. Robert Stephenson
  • News from the International Association for Statistical Education (IASE) by Maria-Gabriella Ottaviani
  • Mark your calendar
  • Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Rosemary A. Roberts
    Bowdoin College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    If you haven't made your plans to go to Dallas yet, now is the time to do so. Jerry Moreno, our 1998 Program Chair, has organized a great program for our section. There are three invited paper sessions, four special contributed paper sessions, and five regular contributed paper sessions that fill all but the last time slot. In addition, there are ten roundtable luncheons on topics in statistics education that have been organized by our 1999 Program Chair, Brad Hartlaub. Brad has chosen a wide range of topics and knowledgeable discussion leaders. This is your opportunity to eat lunch and engage in a discussion with others who are interested in the topic of your choice. . Details about these sessions can be found in Jerry and Brad's article in this newsletter. Thanks to both Jerry and Brad for organizing this fine program.

    On Wednesday, August 12 from 6:00 to 7:30pm we will hold our annual Business Meeting in the Coral Room at the Wyndham Anatole. Jerry Lyons of Springer-Verlag has again kindly agreed to provide refreshments for us at this meeting so this will be a mixer as well as a business meeting. Plan to come to renew old acquaintances and meet other members of our section.

    You may have noticed an article by Ann Watkins, the current chair of the AP Statistics Committee, in our Section News column in the April issue of Amstat News. In this, Ann points out the need for statistics articles that are aimed at mathematicians who teach statistics. This audience is eager for more information, especially about recent developments in statistical theory and the practice of statistics. If you have an idea, I encourage you to submit an article to either The American Mathematical Monthly or to The College Mathematics Journal. See Ann's article for submission information.

    Finally, a brief update about the AP Statistics program. Last year 7,600 students wrote the first AP Statistics exam. This was a record for the number of students taking the first exam for any AP subject. This year the number of students taking the exam more than doubled to about 16,500! This program is growing fast, and it is important that the teachers of AP Statistics courses are given the support that they need. I encourage you to take every opportunity to become involved.

    I hope to see you in Dallas!

    Rosemary Roberts may be contacted at:
    Rosemary A Roberts
    8600 College Station
    Bowdoin College
    Brunswick, ME 04011-8486
    (207) 725-3566
    Fax:(207) 725-3750

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Comments and suggestions for the improvement of the newsletter are most welcome, and should be sent to a member of the editorial board.

    Terry King
    Department of Mathematics & Statistics
    Northwest Missouri State University
    Maryville, Missouri 64468-6001
    (660) 562-1805
    Fax: (660) 562-1188

    Carol Joyce Blumberg
    Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics
    Winona State University
    Winona, MN 55987-5838
    (507) 457-5589
    Fax: (507) 457-5376

    Joan Garfield
    Department of Educational Psychology
    University of Minnesota
    332 Burton Hall
    128 Pillsbury Dr., S.E.
    Minneapolis MN 55455
    (612) 625-0337
    Fax: (612) 624-8241

    Tom Moore
    Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
    Grinnell College
    Grinnell IA 50112
    (515) 269-4206
    Fax: (515) 269-4984

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    At its last meeting the executive committee of the Section on Statistical Education decided to continue for another year to send the issues of the Section newsletter free to School Members of ASA. It is our hope that you find the information in this newsletter interesting.

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Hard copy
    All members of the Section on Statistical Education are automatically sent a hard copy of this newsletter. Other ASA members can receive a hard copy by joining the Section on Statistical Education the next time they renew their ASA memberships (Dues are only $3.00). Non-members of ASA may receive a hard copy by sending $8.00 along with Name, Complete Mailing Address (if within the U.S.A. please include your 9-digit zip code), Telephone, Fax, and e-mail address to:
    Marie Argana
    American Statistical Association
    732 North Washington Street
    Alexandria VA 22314-1943.

    If you wish to receive the newsletter via email contact Terry King (see Editors). Please make sure to include your name and complete e-mail address in your message.

    Web Versions
    All issues of the newsletter are also available on the World Wide Web at:, and can be reached through the Statistical Education Section home page as well. Three different versions are available. The first is a "frames" version which displays the contents and articles on the same screen, along with contact information. The second and third Web versions of the Newsletter are both non-frames versions. The second version accesses each article as a separate file. If a surfer chooses to print an article, only that one article will appear on paper. The third version is a continuous feed version. That is, if a surfer chooses to print, then the entire newsletter will appear on paper.

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Jerry Moreno, John Carroll University
    1998 Stat Ed Program Chair

    Brad Hartlaub, Kenyon College
    1999 Stat Ed Program Chair

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    In case you are wanting to plan which sessions and roundtables to attend in Dallas, the following information from Brad and me should help. The new rule of not being able to speak at more than one session seemed to have reduced the total number of papers by over 200, but our section's total remained stable. We have three invited sessions, four special contributed sessions (two of which are panels), and five regular contributed papers sessions. There are two poster sessions also. For an updated version of the program, check web site

    As Section Program Chair for Baltimore '99, Brad is responsible for this year's roundtables. He has put together a very impressive list of ten topics and discussion leaders that he describes as follows.

    If you are interested in having lunch with some great colleagues and participating in engaging conversations about statistical education, please consider registering for one of the following roundtable luncheons.

    Are you concerned about K-12 math and science education? Quantitative Literacy (QL) techniques form a natural fit with the increased emphasis on hands-on activities in K-12 math and science. Lee Abramson, Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will lead the discussion "Bringing QL into the K-12 Classroom."

    If you have been wanting to add projects to your courses, join Nacer Abrouk, Rose-Hulman Institute, who will lead "Industrial Projects and Applications for Students." The ideas presented will offer an alternative approach to the traditional simulation of theoretical concepts and allow your students to conduct classroom activities under conditions similar to those which prevail in industrial settings.

    Does your math stat course need a change? Karla Ballman, Macalester College, has some interesting suggestions for you. "Discovery and Activity-Based Mathematical Statistics," will focus on the use of activities and discovery based learning. These pedagogical techniques have been successfully incorporated into many introductory courses, but can you use them in the math stat course?

    Are you interested in discussing "The Advanced Placement Statistics Curriculum?" Katherine Halvorsen, Smith College, will discuss the AP Statistics Course Content and the Outline of Topics given in the College Board's "acorn booklet," Advanced Placement Course Description: Statistics. The initial discussion will be broadly based so that participants can feel free to talk about areas of their own interest within the AP curriculum.

    Would you like to introduce bootstrapping to your introductory students? "The Bootstrap in Introductory Statistics Education" will be presented by Tim Hesterberg, MathSoft/Statistical Sciences. Simulation and bootstrapping can help students understand sampling distributions and enable students to do inference for many statistics in a consistent way. Available software and methods that work will be discussed.

    Is it time for a curricular change? David Hull, Ohio Wesleyan University, will present "What Should We Do Instead of Mathematical Statistics?" Given the dwindling numbers of mathematics majors nationwide, an alternative curriculum might increase interest in careers in statistics as well as increase the number of students in upper level statistics courses.

    If you are considering Excel for your statistics course, don't miss "To Excel or Not to Excel" by John D. McKenzie, Jr., Babson College. The pros and cons of using Excel will be discussed.

    Are you concerned about assessment? Norean Radke Sharpe, Babson College, will present "Assessment Issues in Introductory and Advanced Statistics Courses." The relationship between content, pedagogy, competencies, and assessment will be discussed and innovative forms of assessment will be shared.

    Are you using the TI-83 in your classroom? Dex Whittinghill, Rowan University, will lead "The TI-83 Calculator in Statistics: Pros and Cons." Participants will share ideas on HOW, WHY, WHEN, and WHERE the TI-83 is and/or should be used.

    Do your introductory students appear frustrated and confused? Douglas A. Wolfe, Ohio State University will lead the discussion "Focusing on Statistical Intuition in an Introductory Statistics Course." Often the most intuitive and, in many cases, the most informative summary statistics involve counts of events or relative comparisons of individual sample observations. The pros and cons of various constructs for presenting such alternative concepts and analytical approaches in an introductory statistics course will be discussed.

    In every time slot but the very last one, there is a session sponsored by our section. Our first invited session, which is also a JSM theme session, is session 25 on Sunday afternoon. "Making Statistics Accessible to Students with Disabilities" was organized by Carol Blumberg, Winona State U. Carol Preston, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will speak on what the educational community can do to encourage disabled students to enter mathematics, statistics, science and engineering fields. Sue Ann Kroeger, U. of Minnesota, will briefly discuss what universities and instructors are required to do under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She will also discuss instructional strategies to implement for students with various types of physical disabilities.

    You will find Dex Whittinghill, Rowan U., on Tuesday morning at his organized session 137: "The Advanced Placement Statistics Exams: The First Two Years." AP Statistics is a terrific success story as students are finding it an exciting and beneficial course to take. Dex's speakers are: Rosemary Roberts, Bowdoin College, who will describe the course and speak on the types of questions that are on the exam; Chris Olsen, George Washington HS, who will discuss the rubric scoring that is used and will show actual student responses and the scores assigned; Dick Scheaffer, U. of Florida, who will describe the grading of the free-response questions, as well as the connection of the AP course to the college course. Paul Velleman, Cornell U., will pull it all together as their discussant.

    Tom Short, Villanova U., has organized our third invited session 185, "Plugging In - Connecting Technology to the Classroom," which will be held Wednesday morning. Bill Finzer, Key Curriculum Press, will focus on visualization techniques and the importance of dragging in Dynamic Statistics (TM) software, as well as research results from the DataSpace project. The Virtual Laboratories project will be presented by Kyle Siegrist, U. of Alabama, Huntsville. It consists of web-based modules that combine hypertext, graphics, interactive Java applets, and data sets. Tim Hesterberg, MathSoft/Statistical Sciences, will show how computer simulation and bootstrapping can help students understand some key ideas in statistics and probability that are difficult, e.g., sampling distributions. Robin Lock, St. Lawrence University, will share his views on technology in the classroom as the session's discussant.

    We have four special contributed papers sessions. The first, "How to Apply Statistics to Public Policy Problems," was organized by Sally Morton from RAND. It is theme session 12 and will start the week's activities Sunday afternoon. Doug Zahn, Florida State U., has organized session 74 on Monday morning, a special contributed panel of FSU colleagues who will talk on "Fourth Generation Evaluation and the Systematic Improvement of Statistics Courses." Complementing Tuesday morning's invited session on AP Statistics will be Jim Matis's (Texas A&M) Tuesday afternoon special contributed panel session 168 on "Teaching Advanced Placement Statistics in High Schools - The Texas Experience." Jim will be joined by four outstanding high school teachers who will give us first-hand information on the AP statistics program. Be sure to attend session 240 Wednesday afternoon. Milo Schield, Augsburg College, has organized an exciting session with Jessica Utts, Gary Smith, Gudmund Iversen, and Don Macnaughton on "New Directions in Introductory Statistics."

    Over thirty papers have been organized into five very interesting regular contributed papers sessions. On Monday morning session 59, join Carolyn Pillers Dobler, Gustavus Adolphus College, who will chair "Using Projects and Activities to Enhance Learning Probability and Statistics." On Monday afternoon Karla Ballman, Macalester College, is chairing session 104 entitled "We're Teaching; Are They Learning? Are We Communicating?" Tuesday morning session 127, "Enhancing the Learning of Statistics Using Technology" will be chaired by Nick Maxwell, U. of Washington. "A Potpourri of Problems in the Substance of Statistics" is session 223 Wednesday morning and will be chaired by Bill Coombs, Oklahoma State U. Allan Rossman, Dickinson College, has agreed to chair our last session 270 Thursday morning on "Curriculum Reform From AP Stats Through Math Stats."

    By the way, Ron Wasserstein has once again volunteered to organize the voting for our best contributed paper presentation. He has done an excellent job over the years and his efforts are very much appreciated. Your participation in this contest helps to encourage continued excellence in our section's contributed papers.

    Support your Section on Statistical Education by attending these sessions: 12, 25, 59, 74, 104, 127, 137, 168, 185, 223, 240, 270. Check out the invited posters session 39 and contributed posters session 225 as well. Of related interest, sessions that we are co-sponsoring include: 103, 120, 130, 162, 202, 203, 233, 255, 283.

    See you in Dallas!

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    David S. Moore
    Purdue University

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Much of the strength of the American Statistical Association comes from its decentralized structure, with sections offering unity of interests and local chapters offering unity of place. Chapters in particular sometimes feel a bit isolated, so ASA offers "chapter visits" by officers. Doing my duty, I told the ASA office that I would reserve February, March, and April 1998, for chapter visits. Result: 25 talks in 17 cities bounded by Anaheim, Seattle, Wallingford (Connecticut), and Boca Raton.

    I offered the chapters a choice of four talks. Several took more than one, led by Seattle, which got all four in one day. For students: "Statistical Thinking: How to Tell the Facts from the Artifacts." For teachers: "Statistics in the Schools: Wisdom and Folly." For statisticians interested in teaching: "Technology for Teaching Statistics." And for everybody: "Statistical Literacy and Statistical Competence in the 21st Century." The last is my "standard talk" for this year, chosen by most chapters that wanted only one talk and were not using the visit (as Boston did, for example) to attract local teachers.

    My larger themes in discussing "literacy and competence" will not surprise those active in statistical education. In an environment increasingly shaped by technology and rapid exchange of information, we need to find ways to convey broadly applicable intellectual skills that will outlast the more specific facts and methods that we teach. Some headings in my list of components of "statistical literacy" are: Data beat anecdotes. Filters for nonsense: triage on the information flood. Think broadly: Is this the right question? Think broadly: Does the answer make sense? Communication: Can you read a graph?

    Visiting the chapters and talking with members was fascinating. There is no better way to appreciate the diversity of statistics and statisticians. Several chapters arranged visits to schools to talk with AP Statistics classes, and several gathered groups of teachers. My favorite student question (Seattle), was "Will you autograph my Gary Payton poster?" That followed my discussion of my free- throw shooting ability in response to a request to explain significance tests. "I claim I make 80%, so you invite me to the gym, where I make 3 out of 20..."

    The teachers asked all the hard questions. On some, I have opinions; on others, only sympathy. Opinions: The AP Statistics exam is an excellent example of a modern college-level introduction to statistics. The primary purpose of "statistics" in elementary and middle school math is not to teach a separate discipline but to help build core math concepts and skills by providing a concrete context. Yes, calculators wisely used are a great idea, as are most other "reform" emphases; but there's no general protection against bad judgment by either reformers or traditionalists. Sympathy: For teachers suffering from various forms of bad judgment by superiors (adopting IMP or Saxon texts, for example).

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Terry King
    Northwest Missouri State University

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Christine E. McLaren, Editor of STATS, called the spring issue of STATS to my attention. This issue is devoted to statistical education, and is one that members of our Section will not want to miss. Today, some statistical knowledge is regarded by many as a necessary part of the education of our population. The articles here highlight some of the activities that our profession is currently conducting.

    In "Public Statistics Day: A Worthwhile Experience," Roxy Peck points out that hands-on interactive activities for kindergarten, elementary, and middle school students can make learning about statistics fun. Richard Scheaffer in "Making the Grade. - AP Statistics, 1997" discusses how statistics has established a place in the Advanced Placement offerings for secondary students. The higher education students (and their faculty) will want to read the article about the College Bowl. ("Iowa Roars to the 1997 College Bowl Crown," by Edwards and Payton). For a view of statistical internships, see what Heffelfinger, Phillips, and Wigg have to share with us.

    In another article, Jane Booker, Los Alamos National Laboratory, describes the exciting scientific/engineering environment at a research and development institution.

    "What am I going to do after I graduate?" To help answer this question, Dr. STATS leads a panel on statisticians employed in industry, academia, and government. The article contains many helpful hints to help one prepare for a successful job search. Of course, on the lighter side, I will look forward to Mark Glickman's "Outlier...s"

    From early childhood education to graduate school to internships to the workplace environment, the Spring issue of STATS has something for everyone. I am sure that I am not alone in anticipating its arrival of this.

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    July 19-25,1998
    July 26-August 2, 1998

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    The PRE-STAT project is seeking participants for summer '98 Faculty Development Workshops on statistics education to be held at Appalachian State University July 19-25 and Montana State University July 26-August 2. Applicants should be college faculty who are involved with the pre-service education of middle school or secondary school mathematics teachers. PRE-STAT is supported by NSF's Undergraduate Faculty Enhancement program. You will find further information at

    Or contact:
    Mike Perry, project director
    Dept. Math. Sciences, ASU,
    Boone, NC 28608
    Phone: (704) 262-2362

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Tom Moore
    Grinnell College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    In 1989 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published a three-volume series of Standards that recommended substantial changes in the nature of K-12 mathematics education. The volumes were "Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics", "Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics", and "Assessment Standards for School Mathematics". (These volumes are available through the NCTM.) For the past two years NCTM has been in the process of updating the Standards to reflect developments in mathematics education that have occurred during the past decade. The NCTM Writing Group's goal is to publish the updated Standards in the year 2000.

    To help in their task the NCTM asked various national professional societies in the mathematical sciences, including ASA, to form what they termed Association Review Groups (ARGs) to give on-going advice during the process of updating. In December of 1996 Lynne Billard appointed to the ASA ARG: Carol Joyce Blumberg (Winona State University), Christine Franklin (University of Georgia), Jerry Moreno (John Carroll University), Judith O'Fallon (Mayo Clinic), Rosemary Roberts (Bowdoin College), Richard Scheaffer (University of Florida), with myself as chair. Since then all ARGs, including ASA's, have responded to three sets of questions sent to them by NCTM's Writing Group.

    With each set of questions, our ARG has engaged in a lively list-serve discussion for several weeks that leads to a drafting of a consensus document that must then undergo further scrutiny and re-writing until the term "consensus" is deserved. At that point we send it to the NCTM.

    Here are summaries of the three sets of questions that we have responded to thus far:

    (1) January 1997: An initial set of questions broadly asking for our views on the nature of mathematics, for our vision of appropriate mathematics content at the K-12 level, for our assessment of how well the 1989 Standards met our vision of what K-12 mathematics education should be like, and, finally, for our suggestions as to how NCTM might blend the three sets of Standards described in the first paragraph above.

    (2) April of 1997: A set of questions that arose from NCTM's assimilation of the first round of responses from the various ARGs that related to: (a) the nature of and place of algorithms in the curriculum, and (b) the nature of and place of proof and mathematical reasoning.

    (3) December of 1997: A set of questions focusing on the future. Specifically, this third round asked us: (a) To articulate current advances and changes in mathematics that should influence the updated Standards, (b) To reflect on the role of mathematics education as it relates to developing a mathematically intelligent citizenry as well as ensuring an adequate education of students going on to careers in the mathematical sciences, and (c) To advise the NCTM on the nature of activities that students should be engaged in through the K-12 curriculum and to specifically comment on the role of algebra in the curriculum.

    In a nutshell, the ASA ARG approves of the 1989 Standards. In particular we believe that the 1989 Standards did an excellent job of advocating both the content and pedagogy for teaching statistics, data analysis, and probability throughout the K-12 curriculum. We applaud their consistent reinforcement of the collect-analyze-interpret paradigm as the heart of good data analysis and we support their advocacy of active learning in many instances, such as the use of physical simulation to teach concepts of probability.

    At JSM in Anaheim last summer, the ARG held an open discussion about the NCTM Standards that gave the group good input concerning their responses to the first two rounds of questions. Other statisticians who could not attend that discussion have given us feedback on other occasions after reading our responses on the web.

    This past January at the joint mathematics meetings in Baltimore, I participated in a panel discussion organized by Ken Ross of the Mathematical Association of America's ARG (MAA's ARG) and Roger Howe of the American Mathematical Society's ARG on the updating of the Standards. Joining us on the panel were representatives from the Association of Symbolic Logic, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and Association for Women in Mathematics. The discussion was interesting and useful. My impression from this, and from having read other ARG responses, was that the ASA ARG had found consensus on the Standards easier to reach than had most other ARGs. It was at the same Baltimore meeting that Secretary of Education Richard Riley exhorted mathematicians to take an active role in improving K-12 mathematics education. (See for a report on Secretary Riley's January 9 speech.) Ken Ross provides a summary of the Baltimore panel discussion in the May/June issue of MAA's Focus magazine.

    Specific text of the ASA ARG's responses to the 3 sets of questions can be found at the web site (which is part of the ASA's Section on Statistical Education web site): The updating of the Standards is still in progress and the ASA ARG welcomes your input about opinions and recommendations we have expressed in these responses. You may direct your remarks or questions to me at or to any of the ARG members.

    The NCTM has also created a web site where you can find responses from all of the ARGS:

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Bradley Hartlaub
    Kenyon College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Believe it or not, plans are taking shape for JSM 99 in Baltimore. Several suggestions for possible invited sessions have been received, but there is still time to incorporate your ideas and suggestions into the program. The first formal deadline, July 1, 1998, is for proposals for invited sessions. The deadline for special contributed sessions is more flexible so please let us know if there is something that you really want to see on the program.

    If you have suggestions or ideas for the 1999 program or you are interested in serving as a session chair, please contact Brad Hartlaub, Kenyon College,

    If you are interested in serving as a roundtable leader or would like to suggest a topic for a roundtable discussion, please contact Tom Short, Villanova University,

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Roxy Peck
    California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Dear ASA, Thank you for a fun field trip. I really enjoyed the cookie and the juice. I had so much fun putting the eyedrop on the penny and counting the M&M's--red, yellow--and the thing that I like the most is "The Planet Earth and Us". I hope we can come back soon. I was so surprised. When I grow up, I want to be a teacher. From, Ha Ngayne.

    "It was a great pleasure participating in the statistics workshop. My children were mesmerized by the whole experience... We followed up in our classroom with charting and writing about all we learned. The statistics provided us with interesting topics for discussion among my third graders. My children are bilingual and welcome the opportunity to gain new vocabulary in English. There were many surprises in the discoveries they made about measuring and probability..." Linda Pogue (third grade teacher)

    The above letters are just two of many that were received by ASA after the 1997 Public Statistics Day in Anaheim. Public Statistics Day 1997 was a great success thanks to dedicated volunteers who made learning statistical concepts fun for 135 Anaheim school kids. Conceived and implemented by Cathy Crocker and Sue Kulesher of the ASA staff, Public Statistics Day is designed to promote the public image of the discipline and to allow statisticians to share their enthusiasm for statistics with children from kindergarten through middle school. The program is coordinated with the Joint Statistical Meetings, and planning is now underway for this year's event, which will be held on Friday August 14 in conjunction with the Joint Statistical Meetings.

    The objective of the day is for students to have fun with statistics while at the same time learning from the day's experiences. Each student participates in three sessions, which are designed to be activity-based and highly interactive. Last year some great sessions were delivered. Kindergartners made stem-and-leaf displays with stickers and jumped in the Marriott hallways to collect data to help them decide if taller kids can jump farther than shorter kids. Third graders conducted an experiment to see if the number of drops of water that can fit on a penny depends on whether there is dish soap in the water. Fifth graders conducted a survey of shopping preferences. Groups of middle school kids took off for the Marriott lobby to attempt census counts. These are just a sample of the sessions that filled the morning.

    This year, we hope to build on the success of last year's program and to also expand our group of volunteers. If you would like to become involved, contact Roxy Peck by e-mail at or by phone at (805) 756-2971.

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Ron Wasserstein
    Washburn University

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Ann Watkins is the winner of the 1997 Best Contributed Paper Award for the Section on Statistical Education. Dr. Watkins, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at California State University-Northridge, received the highest overall audience evaluation for her presentation entitled "Activity-Based Statistics." A plaque recognizing her achievement will be presented at the Business Meeting of the Section on Statistical Education in Dallas this August.

    For many years, audiences at contributed paper sessions of the Section on Statistical Education have been providing feedback to presenters. The goal of the evaluations and of the award is to encourage high quality contributed paper presentations. Winners since 1988 (and their affiliations at the time) include:

    1996Robin Lock, St. Lawrence University
    1995W. Robert Stephenson, Iowa State University
    1994Terrance P. Callanan, Eastman Kodak Co.
    1993Edward R. Mansfield, University of Alabama
    1992G. Rex Bryce, Brigham Young University
    1991Edward R. Mansfield, M.D. Conerly and
    Benjamin M. Adams, University of Alabama
    1990Michael N. Boyd, Pharmaceutical Research Associates
    1989Edward R. Mansfield, University of Alabama
    1988Robert L. Mason, Southwest Research Institute and
    Richard F. Gunst, Southern Methodist University

    Forty papers were evaluated at the Anaheim meetings. To be eligible for the award, a paper must be evaluated by at least 15 people. The Section is grateful to the numerous audience members who took the time to fill out the evaluation form, and to the session chairs who distributed and collected the forms. Presenters receive a summary of the evaluations for their session and some brief statistics for comparison.

    For further information contact Ron Wasserstein at Washburn University, Topeka KS 66621; (913) 231-1010 x1108; Fax: (913) 231-1010 x1899;

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    W. Robert Stephenson
    Iowa State University

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    In 1993 the Department of Statistics at Iowa State University (ISU) entered into a collaborative agreement to offer a Masters of Science in Statistics program to General Motors (GM) employees through the GM Technical Education Program. The Technical Education Program coordinates course offerings to GM sites in the U.S., Luxembourg and Mexico. Courses are presented on the ISU campus and to GM via videotape delay.

    When GM first approached the Department with the idea of an MS program in statistics that would be delivered to students at a distance, there was considerable discussion amongst the faculty about the merits of such an undertaking. Questions about the quality of the potential students, the ability to offer an experience similar to the one our on- campus students have, access to computing for distance students and resources quickly arose. The faculty recognized that such a program would take away time and resources from other activities of the Department. Would it be worth it?

    At about the same time, the central administration at ISU began a big push toward expanding offerings beyond the traditional bounds of the campus. With money from GM to develop a new "bridge" sequence of courses, Applied Statistics for Industry I & II, and with the encouragement of the university administration, the Department developed a plan to offer its MS program at a distance. The faculty insisted that the requirements and standards for distance education students be the same as those for on-campus students.

    The new sequence of courses, Applied Statistics for Industry I & II, was developed with two goals in mind. One was to provide to individuals planning to enter the MS program refresher courses on statistical thinking and methods. The second goal was to offer a course to engineers and managers, not necessarily contemplating the advanced degree, that would give them practical tools to build knowledge about processes and products, to solve problems and to improve quality. The first year this sequence was taught, 55 students at GM took the first course in fall 1994 and 40 students continued on to the second course in spring 1995. The enrollment fell in the second year but then rebounded in the third year when we opened the course to distance education students at industrial sites in Iowa. Enrollment in these courses has leveled off to 15 to 20 distance education students and 15 to 20 on-campus students each semester.

    The MS program in statistics consists of four core courses that on-campus students take in their first year along with some elective courses. At the end of the first year, students take a written exam over the core course material. In the second year, students complete their elective course work and do a creative component (an individual project under the direction of a major professor). Since distance education students normally take only one course a semester (they are working full time, sometimes more) we had to make some adjustments. Two core courses are offered to distance education students each year (methods one year and theory the next). Distance education students take one portion of the written master's exam at the end of each of the first two years. At least one elective course is offered each semester for distance education students. These students may also use approved courses taken from other universities through the GM Technical Education Program in their program of study for the ISU master's degree.

    The first year that core courses were offered at a distance was 1995-96. There were 30 GM students enrolled in the fall semester Statistical Methods course and 16 in the spring semester Linear Models course. There has been a fair amount of attrition in the program. The MS in statistics is a challenging program that is made more difficult by the constraints of being at a distance. Although we have tried to make the experience as similar to the one our on-campus students have, it is not the same. The distance education student has a full time job that often requires travel. The on-campus student has at most a half time assistantship. Although the professors that teach the courses are available for consultation via phone and e-mail, the distance education student cannot just pop into the office with a question. One of the biggest differences is the access to peers. On-campus students quickly get to know the other students in the program. There may be as many as 50 on- campus students in the core courses. Even if there are 20 students at GM, they are spread out among several sites. There is one student who is the only student in our program at a site in Mexico. The on- campus students also have access to second year students and Ph.D. candidates.

    With the inherent difficulties of education at a distance we are still having success. This spring our first GM student came to campus for her final oral exam. She will receive an MS in Statistics from Iowa State University at the August graduation ceremony. There are several other GM students who are working on their creative components and will finish in the near future. In fall 1997 we started our second cycle through the core courses and expanded the program by offering it to students at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. We continue to offer the Applied Statistics for Industry sequence to GM, where it is one of seven corporate strategy courses, and to industrial sites in Iowa. In spring 1998 we had a half dozen students from Hewlett- Packard sites enrolled in a reliability course. Employees at 3M will start taking courses this fall, so the program is growing. We continue to look for improvements to the way we offer our courses and our MS program to statistics students at a distance.

    I would like to thank Dean Isaacson, Head of the Department of Statistics, for his assistance with this article. For further information please contact:

    Professor Dean Isaacson
    Head, Department of Statistics
    102 Snedecor Hall
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA 50011-1210
    Phone:(515) 294-3440
    Fax: (515) 294-4040

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Maria-Gabriella Ottaviani
    Universita' di Roma "La Sapienza"
    President, IASE

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 - Summer 1998)

    Many ASA members are or have been deeply involved with the IASE. Current ASA president, David Moore, was the first President of the IASE. Richard Scheaffer made substantial contributions to the growth of the IASE, by serving two terms as Vice-President after being a member of the Transitional Committee that steered the new Association from 1991 to 1993. Mary H. Regier was the Editor of the IASE pages in the ISI Newsletter in the same period, while Joan Garfield is the current Editor of the publication, in her capacity as one of the four Vice Presidents of the Association. Kenneth Bryson was Membership Vice-President in the Transitional Committe period.

    Now let me introduce the IASE to you. It is the newest section of the International Statistical Institute, as it was born in Cairo in 1991. IASE is devoted to the development and improvement of statistical education on a worldwide basis. The Association membership is formed by those whose interests or professional activities include:

    1. Teaching statistics at a primary or secondary school

    2. Teaching statistics in a college, technical institute, or university

    3. Teaching, or developing software for statistical computing

    4. Teaching statistics, including quality improvement methods, in business or industry

    5. Training statistical staff for government statistical offices, or

    6. Developing statistical textbooks, audio-visual materials, or curricula.

    This year is a very important one for the IASE. On June 21-26, 1998, in Singapore, the most important international event in the scientific life of the Association will take place: the Fifth International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS 5). The ICOTS 5 theme is: Statistical Education - Expanding the Network. The Conference's general objectives being to provide opportunities for educators throughout the world to expand their networks in statistical education and encourage a worldwide exchange of ideas. The Proceedings of the Conference will be distributed at the meeting and copies may be purchased through the ISI (International Statistics Institute) for those who are not able to attend ICOTS 5. There are three volumes with approximately 1,500 pages. Papers are grouped according to the eight main topics of the Conference:

    1. Statistical education at the school level, (Elementary level, secondary level, teacher training, local teachers)

    2. Statistical education at the post-secondary level (Introductory statistics, mathematical statistics, design and analysis of experiments, regression and correlation, Bayesian methods, sample survey design and analysis)

    3. Statistical education for people in the workplace (Statistical consultancy, continuing education, distance education, total quality)

    4. Statistical education and the wider society (Statistical Societies, statistical literacy, publications, legal contexts)

    5. An international perspective on statistical education (African region, Asian region, Spanish speaking countries, other developing regions)

    6. Research in teaching statistics (School levels, post-secondary levels, probability)

    7. The role of technology in the teaching of statistics (Software design, teaching experiments, graphics calculators, visualization, research, multimedia and WWW)

    8. Other determinants and developments in statistical education (Cultural/historical factors, learning factors, gender factors, projects/ competitions).

    With these volumes it will be possible to have the best and most up-to-date findings regarding the activity and research on statistical education.

    Activities planned in 1999 include the IASE Sessions in the ISI's 52nd biennial meeting which will take place in Helsinki (Finland), August 10-18,1999. One session is co-organized with the International Association for Official Statistics. Listed below are the topics and organizers:

    1. Statistical Education and the Significance Tests Controversy, C. Batanero []

    2. Teaching and Training Multivariate Data Analysis H. Bacelar-Nicolau []

    3. Statistical Education Using Flexible Learning Approaches, A. Di Ciaccio []

    4. Statistical Education for Life, A. Hawkins []

    5. Issues Involved in the Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning of Statistics, J. Garfield []

    6. Visualization as an Educational Tool, L. Weldon []

    7. Statistical Training for People Working in and with Official Statistics, C. Blumberg [] and R. Smulders []

    As usual, contributed paper sessions are also included at the ISI Meeting. Contributed papers concerning teaching statistics submitted by ASA members are particularly encouraged.

    2000 will be the year of the IASE Round Table in Japan on the intriguing theme: Training Researchers in the Use of Statistics. Thanks to contacts established with the Statistical Education Committee of the Japan Statistical Society, this meeting will be held at the Meiji University, which is located in the central area of Tokyo. Carmen Batanero [] will be the Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Round Table.

    In June the IASE Executive Committee will meet in Singapore and important decisions will be made concerning other forthcoming events. The representative of the IASE on the ISI Programme Coordinating Committee for the 53rd Session in Seoul, 2001, will be appointed, the venue for ICOTS 6, in 2002 is to be chosen and a new ICOTS will begin to be planned once again.

    If you are interested in joining other colleagues in an international network, please get in touch with the IASE. Please take an opportunity to view the web site:, which includes an introduction to the ISI and the IASE. Lists are available of the Executive Committee and current IASE National Correspondents. The complete IASE membership directory has just been up-dated and is also available on the web site. If you are interested in a membership application to the IASE, you may find it on the web site along with a list of member's benefits. For new subscribers (while stocks last) a special offer is available which consists of a free book The Assessment Challenge in Statistics Education, edited by I. Gal and J. Garfield, IOS Press, 1997, 294 pages, hardcover.

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 1998)

    Information about the following Joint Statistical Meetings may be obtained from the ASA office,
    732 North Washington Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314-1943
    Phone: (703) 684-1221

    Return to the top of this page
    Return to Newsletter Home Page