Message from the Chair

Allan J. Rossman
Dickinson College

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


I am very honored to serve as Chair of the Statistical Education section of ASA this year. These are very exciting times to be involved in statistics education, and our section is active with a number of initiatives. I describe some of these below, and I also highlight some related activities of other organizations. I encourage you to get involved with the ones that interest you most.

The year 2000 saw the ASA undertake an Undergraduate Statistics Education Initiative (USEI) in which a number of section officers and members took part. A workshop was held in Alexandria in April, and a symposium was held prior to the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) in August. One of the results of these efforts was a series of curriculum guidelines for undergraduate programs in statistical science. Section members provided helpful feedback on early drafts of these guidelines, and the executive committee unanimously endorsed and forwarded them to the ASA Board of Directors in November. On behalf of the section I thank all who contributed to this effort and particularly my predecessor Roxy Peck for her efforts in coordinating the process. More information can be found at http://www.amstat.org/education/usei.html.

Another initiative is the recent creation of a new ASA advisory committee devoted to issues of teacher enhancement. This issue of teacher training and development is especially important given the NCTM's commitment to a focus on data and chance in its revised Standards (http://www.nctm.org/standards) and the growing success of the College Board's AP Statistics program (http://www.collegeboard.com/ap/statistics). Another important document related to teacher training is the CBMS Guidelines for Mathematical Preparation of Teachers (http://www.maa.org/cbms/metdraft/index.htm).

Far more sections of introductory statistics are taught in departments of mathematics than in departments of statistics. Accordingly, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has been engaged in activities to support mathematicians who teach statistics. The MAA has formed a special interest group (SIGMAA) devoted to statistics education and has issued guidelines for programs in undergraduate mathematical sciences (http://www.maa.org/guidelines/guidelines_intro.html) that provide advice for statisticians who are members of mathematics departments. Two of the MAA's recent activities have been publishing a volume of articles describing resources for teaching statistics (http://www.maa.org/pubs/books/nte52.html) and conducting a workshop that led to a series of recommendations for the undergraduate mathematics curriculum from the perspective of statisticians. Tom Moore, organizer of this workshop as well as editor of the aforementioned volume, describes it in an article in this newsletter.

Of course, exciting developments in statistics education are by no means confined to the United States. A golden opportunity to learn about initiatives in other countries, and to share with a global audience what goes on closer to home, is the International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS), to be held in Durban, South Africa in July of 2002. The executive committee has approved expending some modest section funds to support this important conference, about which more information can be found at http://www.beeri.org.il/icots6.

The danger, of course, in my listing some of these developments in statistics education is that I have barely scratched the surface and have necessarily left out many more projects than I have mentioned. Until now I have not even reminded you of probably the most important service that our section provides: an engaging program of sessions at the annual JSM. I know that Jim Matis has put together a very appealing slate of sessions for August's meeting in Atlanta, with John Holcomb assembling an appetizing (sorry!) set of roundtable lunch discussions. Please forgive my many omissions in these brief comments, and please contact me (rossman@dickinson.edu) with suggestions for other projects that I might highlight or that the section might undertake.

Finally, I want to thank the editors of this newsletter -- Terry King, Joan Garfield, and Tom Moore -- for the great service they provide in keeping our membership apprised of developments in statistics education. I encourage all of you to contribute to these exciting times.


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