ASA Stat. Ed. Section Newsletter - V9 N1

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


Contents of Volume 9, Number 1 (Winter 2003):
  • Message from the Section Chair
  • Editors
  • Subscription Information
  • Mark Your Calendar
  • Registration Fees
  • New NSF Assessment Project
  • Update on AP Statistics
  • International Statistical Literacy Project
  • Waller Education Award: Call for Nominations
  • Report to SEN on the TEAMS Conference
  • Big new NSF project gets the go ahead!
  • Cobb Speech at ICOTS-6 in Cape Town
  • VIGRE
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    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, whittinghill@rowan.edu)

    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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    EDITORS

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


    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, MO 64468-6001
    (660) 562-1805
    Fax: (660) 562-1188
    tlking@mail.nwmissouri.edu

    Tom Moore
    Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
    Grinnell College
    Grinnell, IA 50112
    (641) 269-4206
    Fax: (641) 269-4285
    mooret@grinnell.edu

    Brian Jersky
    Sonoma State University
    Rohnert Park, CA 94928-3613
    (707) 664-2361
    Fax: (707) 664-3535
    brian.jersky@sonoma.edu

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    SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

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


    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 membership (Dues are only $5.00). 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 email address to:
    Marie Argana
    American Statistical Association
    732 North Washington Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314-1943.

    Electronic
    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 http://www.stat.ncsu.edu/stated/newsletter/index.html, and can be reached through the Statistical Education Section home page as well. Two different versions are available. The first 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 second version is a continuous feed version. That is, if a surfer chooses to print, then the entire newsletter will appear on paper.

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    MARK YOUR CALENDAR

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


    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
    E-mail: meetings@amstat.org

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    Registration Fees

    Carolyn Pillers Dobler
    Gustavus Adolphus College

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


    The Executive Committee of the ASA Section on Statistical Education has allocated up to $1,000 for reimbursement of JSM registration fees for non-ASA members. This reimbursement is only for non-ASA members who have been invited to be a presenter or in a Topic Contributed Paper Session or a panelist in a Topic Contributed Panel. It does not apply to any other sessions, including Regular Contributed Paper Sessions or Contributed Poster Sessions. If the requests exceed $1,000, the allocation will be proportionately divided.

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    New NSF Assessment Project

    Joan Garfield, Beth Chance, and Bob delMas
    University of Minnesota and California Polytechnic State University

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


    As the number of introductory statistics courses continues to increase, and as more statistics instructors implement educational reform recommendations to improve their courses, there is a strong need for high quality assessment materials to document student learning and to help evaluate the effectiveness of the new "reformed" courses. This is not just true for statistics, but for undergraduate courses in science, mathematics, and engineering.

    A few years ago the NSF began a new program, Assessment of Student Achievement in Undergraduate Education (ASA). This program supports the development and dissemination of assessment practices, materials (tools), and measures to guide efforts that improve the effectiveness of courses, curricula, programs of study, and academic institutions in promoting student learning in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.

    In August 2002, we received funding from this program to support the development of The Web ARTIST project. ARTIST stands for: Assessment Resource Tools to Improve Statistical Thinking. Our project is now underway as we work toward the following goals:

    The ARTIST Web site will include a variety of item formats and types of performance assessments. Our goal is to provide statistics instructors with a centralized resource to help them better evaluate student attainment of particular outcomes, rather than global measures of achievement. Specifically, outcomes to evaluate include statistical literacy (e.g., understanding words and symbols, being able to read and interpret graphs and terms), statistical reasoning (e.g., reasoning with statistical information, using statistics to make predictions or judgment), statistical thinking (e.g., the type of thinking that statisticians use when solving problems that involve data, such as choosing appropriate procedures and checking assumptions).

    We are fortunate to have a wonderful and diverse group of advisors who are helping us design the website as well as to collect and evaluate assessment materials. These advisors are Julie Clark, George Cobb, John Holcomb, Carl Lee, Tony Onwuegbuzie, Roxy Peck, Allan Rossman, Deb Rumsey, and Candace Schau.

    We are currently collecting assessment materials for our website and soliciting pilot testers for assessment items. If you would like to participate in our project, or have suggestions about what assessment information would be most useful to you as a teacher of statistics, please go to our website (http://www.gen.umn.edu/artist/) and select the "Ways to Participate" link. We hope to offer our first mini-course on assessment at the 2004 Joint Mathematics Meetings and plan to offer a summer workshop in 2004 at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo. For more information, please feel free to contact Joan Garfield at jbg@umn.edu.

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    Update on AP Statistics

    Roxy Peck
    California Polytechnic State University

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


    AP Statistics is still growing. We had 49,900 students take the exam last year, and the estimate for this coming year is 59,800! We expect to have nearly 300 readers and leaders this year at the Nebraska grading meeting.

    The other big news as far as AP goes is that Brad Hartlaub from Kenyon College and an active Stat Ed Section person will become the Chief Reader starting July 1.

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    International Statistical Literacy Project

    Carol Joyce Blumberg
    Winona State University

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


    The International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) is a project of the IASE (International Association for Statistical Education). It replaces the earlier World Numeracy Project of the ISI (International Statistical Institute). The first project of the ISLP was to work with Professor Yadolah Dodge (Université de Neuchâtel) to include more statistics education terms in the new edition of the ISI Dictionary of Statistical Terms, which will be published soon with Professor Dodge as its editor. This project has been completed.

    The ISLP has an Advisory Committee to guide the project over the next few years. The members of the Advisory Committee are Carol Joyce Blumberg (USA, Chair), Beverley Carlson (USA/Chile), Iddo Gal (Israel), Orhan Güvenan (Turkey), John Harraway (New Zealand), Peter Holmes (UK), Maria A. Pannone (Italy), René Padieu (France) and Gilberte Schuyten (Belgium). Ex-Officio members of the Committee are: Carmen Batanero (Spain, IASE President), Christopher Wild (New Zealand, IASE President-Elect), Marcel Van den Broecke (Director, ISI Permanent Office), and Daniel Berze (Assistant Director, ISI Permanent Office). The Advisory Committee met on July 11, 2002 in Cape Town, South Africa and made several decisions with respect to the project.

    It has been decided to devote our efforts presently to develop a website on resources to enhance the development of statistical literacy. Most of the entries on the webpages will be 3 to 5 sentence summaries of various publications, websites, etc. The emphasis will be on materials that can be obtained for free over the Internet or via other means. Materials that must be purchased at a cost will also be included, when appropriate. Complete ordering information, including direct Internet links, will be given for all entries. The website will be maintained at Winona State University by Carol Joyce Blumberg and Nicole Machacek (a third year undergraduate student in Communications Studies at Winona State). It is expected that the website will be ready for use around March 1, 2003. Once the website is available, announcements will be made in various publications, including this newsletter.

    The website will be organized as a series of webpages with each webpage having its own coordinators. The webpages (with coordinators listed in parentheses) will be:

    1. Introductory page(s) with definitions of statistical literacy, some general resources on statistical literacy, and an explanation of what is and is not included on the website. (Carol Blumberg, USA, cblumberg@winona.edu);

    2. Resources for elementary school teachers to use in their classrooms. (Judith Zawojewski, USA, judiz@iit.edu & Helen Chick, Australia, h.chick@unimelb.edu.au);

    3. Resources for secondary school teachers to use in their classrooms. (Philip Boland, Ireland, philip.j.boland@ucd.ie & Jerry Moreno, USA, moreno@jcu.edu);

    4. Resources for elementary school teachers to use to improve their own knowledge of and teaching of statistics and probability (where statistics and probability are defined in their widest possible meanings) (Judith Zawojewski, USA, judiz@iit.edu & Helen Chick, Australia, h.chick@unimelb.edu.au);

    5. Resources for secondary school teachers to use to improve their own knowledge of and teaching of statistics and probability (where statistics and probability are defined in their widest possible meanings) (Philip Boland, Ireland, philip.j.boland@ucd.ie & Jerry Moreno, USA, moreno@jcu.edu);

    6. Resources for those training teachers, both those who are preparing future teachers and those who are giving further education to those already teaching. (Mike Perry and Gary Kader, USA, perrylm@appstate.edu & gdk@math.appstate.edu);

    7. Resources related to government statistics offices. (Reija Helenius, Finland, reija.helenius@stat.fi);

    8. Resources for journalists and other members of the mass media to use that will help them understand and report statistics and statistical ideas correctly and in an understandable manner.

    9. Resources for adult learners (Iddo Gal, Israel, iddo@research.haifa.ac.il);

    10. Resources for planning and conducting a children's census or similar activity. (Neville Davies, UK, neville.davies@ntu.ac.uk);

    11. A list of projects or other efforts in statistical literacy sponsored by the national statistics offices, national statistical societies, or similar groups. This list will be sorted by country. (Carol Blumberg, cblumberg@winona.edu);

    12. A list of funding organizations that will accept grant applications from individuals or organizations that want to begin or to expand statistical literacy efforts in their countries or regions. (Carol Blumberg, cblumberg@winona.edu);

    13. A collection of data sets that can be used when doing teaching or training in statistical literacy and links to collections of data sets that already exist. (Brant Deppa and Christopher Malone, USA, bdeppa@winona.edu & cmalone@winona.edu);

    Coordinators are still needed for the webpage relating to journalists and the other members of the mass media. Also, several of the coordinators listed here would like to have co-coordinators. If you are interested in being a coordinator or co-coordinator, please contact Carol Blumberg (see below for contact information).

    If you have an item that you feel is appropriate for inclusion on the website, please send it to the appropriate listed coordinator or contact Carol Joyce Blumberg at cblumberg@winona.edu; Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Winona State University, Winona MN 55987-5838. Tel: (507) 457-5589; Fax: (507) 457-5376.

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    Section News - Statistical Education
    Waller Education Award: Call for Nominations

    Jeff Witmer
    Oberlin College

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


    The Section on Statistical Education is proud to be administering the second Waller Education Award in 2003. Established by a contribution from retired ASA Executive Director Ray Waller and his wife Carolyn, this award honors an individual for innovation in the instruction of elementary statistics. Nominees should be early in their career (ten or fewer years of full-time teaching) with responsibility for teaching "the first course" in statistics in a two-year college, a four-year college, or a research university. Graduate teaching assistants may be nominated for the award.

    The recipient will be selected according to the following criteria:

    Nominations should be submitted as a complete packet, consisting of:

    Nominations must be received by 1 April 2003. They should be sent to: Waller Education Award Committee, c/o Jeff Witmer, Office of the Dean, Cox 101, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074. Questions may be addressed to jeff.witmer@oberlin.edu. The recipient will be honored at the Joint Statistical Meetings in San Francisco.

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    Report to SEN on the TEAMS Conference

    Christine Franklin
    University of Georgia

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


    The American Statistical Association (ASA), with further sponsorship and organization through the University of Georgia's Department of Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Mathematical Education, College of Education are working as partners to plan the Inaugural Conference on Statistics in Teacher Preparation, which will be held in Fall 2003. This conference is the ASA response to the Mathematics Education of Teachers (MET) report released by CBMS in Fall 2001.This report can be accessed at http://www.cbmsweb.org/MET_Document/index.htm.

    A planning meeting was held February 22-24, 2002 at the University of Georgia. This meeting was attended by 25 individuals, representing different organizations and areas of expertise in the arena of statistical education. The 2003 conference goals, content, format, identification of speakers, invitation process for participants and funding possibilities were discussed. A Steering Committee for the conference was put together to carry out the actual organization of the 2003 conference, using the ideas and strategies developed at the planning conference. The Steering Committee consists of

    The 2003 conference was named at the planning meeting, "Math/Stat Teacher Education: Assessment, Methods, and Strategies Conference". The conference is being referred to as the Math/Stat TEAMS Conference. The date of the conference is Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2003. The organizers of the 2003 TEAMS Conference are currently seeking funds that will aid teams of educators to attend the conference. The invited teams will ideally consist of a statistician, mathematician, math educator, science and/or social science educator, and curriculum director or instructional leader from a local school district. The conference program will consist of:

    The inaugural conference will be targeted for 120 invited participants (institutional team members and handpicked presenters). The team members will be asked to apply for an invitation and must express a strong interest in following through with the goals of the conference. The conference organizers are also seeking funds to provide follow up grant monies that the participants can apply for in establishing programs at their home institutions.

    In August 2002, at the Joint Statistical Meetings held in New York City, a session was held entitled, "The CBMS Mathematics Education of Teachers Report and Preparing K-12 Teachers to Deliver Statistical Content". It was chaired by Christine Franklin, with Alan Tucker, Richard Scheaffer, Peter Holmes, and Pat Wilson serving as panelists. Each of these panelists will be a presenter at the inaugural TEAMS conference. Strong support for the TEAMS conference has been shown by attendees at the panel presentation and interest has been expressed in forming teams to attend the conference.

    You can read more about the TEAMS conference by visiting the ASA website at: http://www.amstat.org/education/teams.html or contact: Christine Franklin, Co-chair, University of Georgia, Department of Statistics, Athens, GA 30602; chris@stat.uga.edu

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    Big new NSF project gets the go ahead!

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


    The NSF project is a joint effort between ASA, Cal Poly and UCLA. Rob Gould is co-PI with Roxy Peck on the grant. The total grant was for around $1million dollars over three years.

    The name of the program is INSPIRE: INsight into Statistical Practice, Instruction and Reasoning. It offers high school teachers who are preparing to teach courses in introductory statistics the opportunity to participate in a unique professional development program.

    Supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and designed and taught by leading statistics educators and experienced secondary teachers, this program will consist of a weeklong workshop to be held July 6 - 11, 2003 at Cal Poly followed by a yearlong distance learning course offered for graduate credit through UCLA Extension. A capstone meeting will be held at the end of the yearlong program in conjunction with the 2004 NCTM meeting April 21 - 24, 2004 in Philadelphia.

    Participants successfully completing the yearlong program will be eligible for consideration for a second-year program that will provide participants with experience solving statistical problems under the guidance of a practicing statistician working in industry or government.

    Support from NSF covers travel, room and board for the workshop, workshop fees, and UCLA tuition and fees.

    The program is designed primarily for those who are new to teaching statistics. Admission to the program is expected to be competitive. For more information, please visit http://inspire.stat.ucla.edu or contact Rob Gould (rgould@stat.ucla.edu) or Roxy Peck (rpeck@calpoly.edu).

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    Cobb Speech at ICOTS-6 in Cape Town

    Brian Jersky
    Sonoma State University

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


    In a brilliant and funny talk given at the end of the ICOTS-6 conference in Cape Town in July last year, George Cobb gave a talk on how to encourage statistical illiteracy in our students. Of course, his aim was to poke fun at unenlightened teaching, uninspired examples, and unclear concepts that make students illiterate, and to provoke us as teachers to teach statistics in ways that prevent this.

    It is difficult to summarize the talk and impossible to display the humor that pervaded it, and made it so much more memorable, but I will attempt to summarize his main points, as I heard them.

    "If all else fails", he said, "we should lower our standards."

    He demonstrated this by giving an example that he had given to a class of his, which related the percentage High School graduation rates in all 50 US States to the egg production of each State, a relationship that, when suitably transformed, is fairly linear. In fact, as egg production increased, high school graduation rates declined.

    The point George made was that his students often focused on the technical aspects of the relationship, without realizing, firstly, that the data were not a sample of anything, and secondly, that there was clearly no causal relationship. Nevertheless, students concentrated on identifying p-values, commenting on the meaning of the slope coefficient of the regression line, and speculating on the meaning or otherwise of residuals. George claimed that if he had shown the students this graph before they had taken his introductory statistics class, they would more likely have dismissed the line as irrelevant or meaningless, but after the class, they had been bewitched by formulas and technique to such an extent that they had suspended common sense.

    His conclusion is as follows: "[T]he more attention you paid to procedure the less attention you had left for the meaning. That's the single most important insight for creating illiteracy: technique preempts concepts. In a version of Gresham's law, ritual drives out meaning. If you want to drive a wedge between your students and their common sense, just pile on the procedures."

    I can highly recommend listening to George give the full version of this talk if you ever have the opportunity to do so. I guarantee that it will bring the house down. I conclude with a quote from the end of the talk: "To review, here are the four secrets again: Variability is everywhere. Bias and confounding are everywhere. Good design is the mother of good data. Good data analysis weaves a tapestry. Conceal these four facts from your students, preferably by teaching lots of procedures and formulas, and you can ensure that they leave your course statistically illiterate."

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    VIGRE

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


    The Department of Statistics at Iowa State University is pleased to inform you that we will again have a summer research program for undergraduates as part of our VIGRE Grant. The program, Vertical Integration of Research and Education (VIGRE), aims to increase the level of interaction among students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty in an effort to better prepare students for the broad range of career opportunities available in the statistical sciences. At the heart of the program at Iowa State are a collection of work groups composed of a number of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Work groups have been formed in the areas of Bioinformatics and Genetic Statistics, Statistics for Engineering Applications, Environmental Statistics, Probability and Stochastic Processes, Statistics in the Social Sciences, and Statistical Sampling Methodology. Future groups may be formed in other areas on the basis of student and faculty interest.

    The Department invites applications from highly qualified and motivated undergraduate students for participation in an Undergraduate Summer Experience in Research (USER) organized under one of the work groups. Room and board plus an additional stipend will be provided for an eight-week program.

    VIGRE undergraduate traineeships will be awarded on a competitive basis and are restricted to citizens or permanent residents of the United States. To qualify for USER funding, a student need not be a statistics major. Applications are invited from students majoring in any scientific field who wish to gain exposure to the process of data collection and analysis from a statistical perspective.

    For more information or an application form, check the Web site http://www.stat.iastate.edu/update/vigreunders.html

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