IASE Roundtable Conference on Training Researchers in the Use of Statistics

Carol Joyce Blumberg
Winona State University

Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
Volume 7, Number 1 (Winter 2001)


The International Association for Statistical Education (IASE) holds a Round Table Conference every four years. This year's Round Table was held at The Institute of Statistical Mathematics in Tokyo, Japan from August 7 to 11, 2000 on the topic of Training Researchers in the Use of Statistics. Carmen Batanero (Spain) was the Chair of the Scientific Committee. The other members of her committee were Theodore Chadjipadelis (Greece), Joan B. Garfield (USA), Yuki Miura (Japan), David Ospina (Colombia), and Brian Phillips (Australia). The Local Organising Committee was chaired by Yuki Miura. The other members of his committee were Kensei Araya, Masakatsu Murakami, and Toshiro Shimada. Portions of this article are heavily based on an article by Carmen Batanero that appeared in the annual IASE Review newsletter http://www.swin.edu.au/maths/iase/newsletters.html.

Proposals for paper presentations were solicited in the Fall of 1999 by the Scientific Committee. Each of these proposals was then reviewed by 2 referees. Based on the referees' reviews, the Scientific Committee decided which proposals would be accepted. The authors of each accepted proposal were then required to complete a scholarly paper of no more than 16 pages by May 1, 2000. These papers were then put on the web. Those attending the Round Table could then download and read the papers of the various presenters before the actual Round Table.

At the Round Table conference paper presenters were given 20 minutes for their oral presentations. Each presentation was followed by approximately 20 minutes of audience questions and discussion. The Scientific Committee organized the papers into sessions that contained from 2 to 5 papers. Each session ended with a 10 to 15 minute formal discussion of the papers in that session by a pre-assigned discussant and 20 to 30 more minutes of audience discussion. In total there were 24 formal paper presentations given by presenters from 16 different countries; 8 discussants from 7 different countries, and approximately 20 invited observers from Japan.

The first group of presentations, "Training Researchers in Particular Statistical Topics", contained papers on categorical data analysis (Elisabeth Svensson, Sweden), association (Antonio Estepa, Spain), quality control (Chihiro Hirotsu, Japan), stochastic processes (Ann Lee Wang, Malaysia), statistical models (Alan McLean, Australia), and Bayesian statistics (Gudmund Iversen, USA). The second grouping centered around "How Technology Affects the Training of Researchers." Presentations here concerned the impact of the internet on training (Gianfranco Galmacci, Italy), using the internet to train medical personnel (2 papers; Tae Rim Lee, South Korea and Dalene Stangl, USA), the misuses of statistical software (Toshiro Shimada, Japan) and the issues surrounding the sharing of official statistics with researchers (Sandra McDonald, New Zealand).

The third grouping, "Needs and Problems in Training Researchers in Specific Areas", contained presentations on the needs of researchers in the biological and health sciences (2 papers: John Harraway, New Zealand and Glenys Bishop, Australia), agriculture (David Saville, New Zealand), education (Carol Joyce Blumberg, USA), and the social sciences (Michael Glencross & Andile Mji, South Africa). The fourth grouping looked at "International Experiences in the Training of Researchers." The first two presentations were on cooperative multi-country projects (Shrikant Bangdiwala, USA and Carlos Marcos Batista, Brazil). The other two presentations were on the specific experiences in training researchers in Colombia (David Ospina) and China (Yuan Wei). The final grouping looked at "Consultation as a Teaching and Learning Process." Four closely related papers were given here by Gabriella Belli (USA), Juan D. Godino (Spain), Flavia Jolliffe (UK), and Ben-Chang Shia (Taiwan).

Overall, I found the Round Table very stimulating. It gave me lots of ideas for how to better help researchers with the statistical aspects of their research. Some themes that emerged for me from the conference were that (i) we need to have more emphasis on statistical thinking when training researchers (ii) we need to make researchers more aware of the roles of statisticians in the research process (iii) the internet and other technology are changing the ways we train researchers (iv) statisticians need to learn better how to communicate with researchers (v) the international community needs to do more to help researchers in developing countries have access to high quality statistical training at all levels and, not too surprisingly, (vi) there is a lot of misunderstanding of statistics and the use of statistical techniques by researchers.

Besides the formal sessions, there were also coffee breaks and a lunch break each day where the participants could talk individually or in small groups. In addition, there was also a welcoming reception and farewell party hosted by Ryoichi Shimizu, the Director-General of The Institute of Statistical Mathematics.

After the Round Table, each of the paper presenters was given a copy of the individual comments made by the other participants concerning their paper. The authors of each of the papers then rewrote their papers by November 1, 2000, based on the individuals' and discussants' comments. Authors were also asked to reference, where appropriate, other papers presented at the Round Table, so that the final volume of conference proceedings would read more as a coherent book rather than as a series of papers. When the final version of the conference proceedings is ready, an announcement will be made in this newsletter.

Besides the production of the Round Table conference proceedings, IASE has three upcoming events. On August 21 and 22, 2001, IASE will sponsor a 1½ day conference on "Statistical Literacy" in Seoul, Korea. This conference immediately precedes the 53rd Session of the International Statistics Institute (ISI) conference from August 22 to 29, 2001, in Seoul, Korea. At the ISI conference itself there will be 11 invited sessions, either organized or co-organized by IASE, devoted to statistics education as well as several contributed paper sessions on statistics education. Finally, the International Conference on Teaching Statistics-6 (ICOTS-6) will be held in Durban, South Africa from July 7 to 12, 2002. Links to information about these conferences can be found at http://www.swin.edu.au/maths/iase/conferences2.html. Information on IASE and on joining IASE can be found on its main webpage at http://www.swin.edu.au/maths/iase.

If you have any questions on the IASE Round Table please contact Carmen Batanero at Department of Didactics of Mathematics, University of Granada, 18071 Granada SPAIN, email: batanero@goliat.ugr.es. Questions on IASE may be directed to Brian Phillips, School of Mathematical Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, PO Box 2318, Hawthorn 3122, AUSTRALIA, Phone: 61-3-9214-8288 Fax: 61-3-9819-0821, email: bphillips@swin.edu.au or to Jackie Dietz or me (as USA national correspondents): E. Jacquelin Dietz, Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University, Box 8203, Raleigh NC 27695-8203, Phone: (919) 515-1929, Fax: (919) 515-1169, email: dietz@stat.ncsu.edu or Carol Joyce Blumberg, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Winona State University, Winona MN 55987-5838, Phone: (507) 457-5589, Fax: (507) 457-5376, email: cblumberg@winona.edu.


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