Message from the Chair

Allan J. Rossman
Dickinson College

Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
Volume 7, Number 2 (Spring 2001)


Summer may be considered "down time" for education, but that is definitely not the case for activities of our Section.

The primary illustration of this is the program that our Section will offer at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Atlanta in August. Jim Matis has assembled an excellent series of sessions on a wide variety of themes, and John Holcomb has organized a set of roundtable discussions that promises to be quite informative. Details about this program can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. In addition to urging you to attend these sessions, I also encourage you to watch for sessions related to education that are sponsored by other sections and organizations.

Summer is also a time in which many teachers engage in professional development. ASA's newly created Advisory Committee on Teacher Enhancement (ACTE), on which I sit as the representative of our Section, is working on a series of initiatives to improve teachers' preparation to teach statistics. One of these is a plan to conduct summer workshops combined with distance education courses for high school teachers; a grant proposal has been submitted to NSF for this project. Another initiative is the planning of a conference specifically addressing issues of teacher preparation in statistics. A third is to work more closely with the National Science Teachers Association to improve the teaching of statistics in science courses.

Another important summer project is a planning meeting to be held at Ohio State in July to consider establishing an Institute/Consortium for Undergraduate Statistics Education. The goals of such an institute would include facilitating the exchange of ideas among instructors of undergraduate statistics and promoting statistics education as both a career path and a research area. Deb Rumsey and Joan Garfield are the organizers of this meeting, at which I have been invited to represent our Section. They and I welcome your thoughts about the potential of this organization.

Since statistics education is becoming prevalent throughout the K-12 curriculum, I encourage all Section members to consider ways to make a positive impact on this important enterprise. Summer vacation may provide an opportunity to make contact with local teachers of statistics. A professional statistician might invite a high school class to take a field trip to her company and explain what her job entails. A college professor might share teaching materials with an AP Statistics teacher. An AP Statistics teacher might offer to advise students working on science fair projects. A graduate student might visit a high school class and describe what appeals to him about studying statistics. This list just scratches the surface of possibilities, but I hope that it inspires you to consider how to use your knowledge and interest in statistics to help with the teaching of our discipline.

Before I conclude this column I want to thank ASA's outgoing executive director Ray Waller as he approaches his retirement, for Ray has been a committed advocate for statistics education. He and his wife have made a generous donation to ASA that they have designated to support statistics teachers at the beginning of their careers, and they have entrusted our Section with overseeing awards from this endowment. On behalf of the Section I thank Ray for his service and wish him well in retirement.

Finally, I invite you to attend our Section's Business Meeting and reception to be held from 5:30-7:00 on Wednesday, August 8 in Atlanta. I look forward to seeing you there.


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