Message from the Section Chair

Joan Garfield
University of Minnesota

Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
Volume 9, Number 1 (Winter 2003)

As I write this column (in December) during the last week of the semester, my desk is piled high with papers and my email "inbox" is overflowing. It is, as always, the busiest time of year, as holidays approach and classes draw to a close. It is also a poignant time as I prepare to say goodbye to students in the two courses I am teaching, with whom I have spent so much time during the last few months.

This semester has been an important one for me, because it marks my return to teaching after being on leave for a year, due to my recent loss of central vision. Returning to the classroom has meant adapting to teaching with perpetually blurry vision, holding print materials next to my nose in order to decipher them, and not being able to recognize students unless they are a foot away from me. What I have learned during my return to teaching this year is that none of these aspects of my disability have changed the joy I feel teaching statistics. I am thrilled to be back in the classroom again and look forward to continued teaching for many years.

I know that I am not alone in my feelings about teaching statistics, and that is why it is wonderful to be part of this ASA Section on Statistical Education. Each year when I attend the Joint Statistics Meetings, I am reinforced and newly inspired by my colleagues, many of whom present in sessions organized by this section. Last summer we had an exceptionally good program, organized by John Holcomb, and I look forward to an equally good program this summer, organized by Andre Lubecke.

At each JSM, in addition to attending regular sessions, I also try to attend or lead a roundtable session. These small, informal sessions are a great way to discuss, in depth, a topic of interest with colleagues from a variety of different institutions. I often meet people at these roundtables whom I've heard about or whose names I've seen on email discussion groups, such as ISOTAT. I highly recommend registering for a roundtable session or even better, leading one! (Contact Dex Whittinghill,

One session at the JSM last summer presented information on three exciting new projects in statistics education. I'll close this report by giving a brief update on three projects.

All three of these projects resulted from ASA Strategic Initiative grants, and all promise to meet important needs in the statistics education community. Stay tuned for some exciting developments in each of these areas!

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