Newsletter of the Stat Ed Section - V3 N2

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


Contents of Volume 3 Number 2:

  • Message from the Section Chair
  • Editors
  • Attention K-12 School Members
  • Subscription Information
  • New Lead Editor Needed!
  • Short Announcements
  • "Section on Statistical Education Plans for 1997 Joint Meetings" by Roxy Peck
  • "Spotlight on David Moore" by Sherry A. Wasserstein
  • "Statistics Education Resources on the World Wide Web" by Steven Rein
  • "On Statistics Programs" by Robert V. Hogg
  • "ASA Advises NCTM on K-12 Standards Update" by Tom Moore
  • "Current Activities of ASA's Center for Statistical Education" by Chris Maley
  • "Science Education and Quantitative Literacy" by Jeff Witmer
  • "PME (Psychology of Mathematics Education) Working Group on the Teaching and Learning of Statistics" by John Truran
  • "American Educational Research Association and Statistics Education" by Patricia L. Busk
  • "Some Impressions of the IASE Roundtable: The Use of Technology in Teaching Statistics" by J. Laurie Snell
  • "ASA Involvement in the High School Mathematics Competitions" by Don Bentley
  • Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    MESSAGE FROM THE SECTION CHAIR

    Jackie Dietz
    North Carolina State University

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    I am looking forward to seeing many of you in Anaheim. Roxy Peck has done a wonderful job putting together the Statistics Education program; see the article on page 3 for more details. Jerry Moreno has planned so many roundtable luncheons related to teaching statistics that they had to be divided between two days! The business meeting of the Section on Statistical Education will be from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 13 in the Palos Verdes Room A at the Hilton. Jerry Lyons at Springer has generously offered to provide refreshments for our meeting, so this will be a mixer in addition to a business meeting.

    I would like to take this opportunity to update you on a project important to me -- the Journal of Statistics Education (JSE). JSE is an electronic journal devoted to post-secondary teaching of statistics. We published our first issue in 1993, making us the first electronic journal in statistics.

    We publish two versions of the journal, a World Wide Web version available at http://www.stat.ncsu.edu/info/jse/homepage.html and a plain ascii text version. Subscriptions to JSE are free; subscribers receive (by e-mail) the Table of Contents of each new issue when it becomes available. To subscribe to JSE, send the message: subscribe jse-announce firstname lastname to listserv@jse.stat.ncsu.edu (replace "firstname lastname" with your name).

    A large cast of characters has been involved with JSE over the past five years. I have served as Editor, and Tim Arnold has been Managing Editor. JSE would not exist without Tim Arnold's vision and expertise. He had the original idea of starting an electronic journal on teaching statistics, and he has been responsible for most of the technical decisions made over the years. Tim has just taken a new position at SAS Institute and will be leaving the journal; he will be sorely missed.

    For many years, Joan Garfield and Laurie Snell have written a column called Teaching Bits that abstracts articles from the education literature and from newspapers and magazines that will be of interest to statistics teachers. Joan's and Laurie's parts of Teaching Bits have recently been taken over by Bob delMas and Bill Peterson, respectively.

    Another popular section of JSE is Datasets and Stories. This section includes articles about datasets useful in teaching. A dataset article gives information about the background of a dataset and its interesting pedagogical features; the dataset itself can be easily downloaded for use with students. Robin Lock, Tim Arnold, and Bob Hayden have been the editors of Datasets and Stories. Please consider submitting a dataset article to JSE. Contact Robin Lock at rlock@vm.stlawu.edu or Bob Hayden at hayden@oz.plymouth.edu if you have a dataset article or an idea for one.

    Jeff Jonkman, a Ph.D. student in statistics at North Carolina State, works half-time as our Editorial Assistant. Jeff does the html markup for the World Wide Web version of the journal, prepares graphic files, and edits articles. An international Editorial Board of 24 members sets policy for JSE and does much of the refereeing.

    Each article submitted to JSE is reviewed by three referees. Referees are chosen from the JSE Editorial Board and from a large pool of volunteer referees. Please volunteer to review papers for JSE! If you send me your name, I will send you an interest survey to fill out, so that I can send you appropriate articles to review.

    Submit an article, contribute a dataset, offer to referee an article! We need your help to make JSE even more successful in the coming years.

    I can be reached at:
    Department of Statistics
    Box 8203
    North Carolina State University
    Raleigh NC 27695-8203
    (919) 515-1929
    Fax: (919) 515-7591
    dietz@stat.ncsu.edu.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    EDITORS

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    Carol Joyce Blumberg
    Dept. of Mathematics and Statistics
    Winona State University
    Winona, MN 55987-5838
    (507) 457-5589
    Fax: (507) 457-5376
    wncarolj@vax2.winona.msus.edu

    Joan Garfield
    Department of Educational Psychology
    University of Minnesota
    332 Burton Hall
    128 Pillsbury Dr., S.E.
    Minneapolis MN 55455
    (612) 625-0337
    Fax: (612) 624-8241
    jbg@maroon.tc.umn.edu

    Tom Moore
    Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
    Grinnell College
    Grinnell IA 50112
    (515) 269-4206
    Fax: (515) 269-4984; mooret@ac.grin.edu
    On leave for 97-98 (starting 9/1/97) at
    Mt. Holyoke College
    Dept of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
    South Hadley, MA 01075.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    ATTENTION K-12 SCHOOL MEMBERS

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    At its last meeting the executive committee of the Section on Statistical Education decided to send this year's issues of the Section newsletter free to School Members of ASA. It is our hope that you find the information in this newsletter interesting.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    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 memberships (Dues are only $3.00). 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 e-mail 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 Carol Joyce Blumberg at wncarolj@vax2.winona.msus.edu. 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://renoir.vill.edu/cgi-bin/short/StatEd.cgi, and can be reached through the Statistical Education Section home page as well. Three different versions are available. The first is a "frames" version which displays the contents and articles on the same screen, along with contact information. The second and third Web versions of the Newsletter are both non-frames versions. The second 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 third version is a continuous feed version. That is, if a surfer chooses to print, then the entire newsletter will appear on paper.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    NEW LEAD EDITOR NEEDED!

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    Carol Blumberg has served as lead editor for this newsletter since its inception three years ago. We are looking for someone else to take over the task of lead editor. The lead editor has the task of organizing (with the assistance of the other editors) what articles to solicit for each issue of the newsletter. Once the lead editor receives all of the articles and other information for a particular issue of the newsletter, the lead editor has the task of putting everything together into a newsletter format. Carol Blumberg, Joan Garfield, and Tom Moore are willing to remain as associate editors or the new lead editor may choose to have new people serve as the other editors. Also, if needed, the printing and mailing can continue to be handled by Winona State University. If you are interested in serving for one or more years as the lead editor, please contact Jackie Dietz at:
    Department of Statistics
    Box 8203
    North Carolina State University
    Raleigh NC 27695-8203
    (919) 515-1929
    Fax: (919) 515-7591
    dietz@stat.ncsu.edu.

    If you want more details, please feel free to contact Carol Joyce Blumberg (see editors' box on Page 1 for contact information).

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    SHORT ANNOUNCEMENTS

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    If you are interested in organizing an invited session for the section for the Joint Statistical Meetings in Dallas 1998, please let Jerry Moreno, the 1998 Program Chair for the Section on Statistical Education, know as soon as possible. He needs to have topics and organizers identified by early fall, but preferably by the time of the Joint Statistical Meetings in Anaheim. An invited paper session has a maximum of four speakers or three speakers and a discussant on a common theme. One such theme should surely be in the technology area. Other session formats, such a panel, are possible. These other formats can have up to five participants plus the session chair. For further information contact Jerry Moreno at: Dept of Mathematics
    John Carroll University
    University Heights, OH 44118;
    (216) 397-4681
    moreno@jcvaxa.jcu.edu.


    The annual meeting of Isolated Statisticians will take place on Sunday, August 10 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the California B room at the Hilton during the Joint Statistical Meetings. Although those who have attended these annual meetings of Isolated Statisticians in the past are mostly academicians, anyone who feels isolated is most welcome. For further information, please contact:
    Dex Whittinghill
    Dept. of Mathematics
    Rowan University
    Glassboro, NJ 08028
    (609) 256-4500 x 3879
    whittinghill@rowan.edu.


    The Statistics Teacher Network newsletter, which is published three times a year by the ASA/NCTM Joint Committee on the Curriculum in Statistics and Probability, is now available on the web. Thanks are due to Tom Short of Villanova who will prepare the web versions and to Mike Meyer and Bruce Trumbo who are the ASA webmasters. The winter issue is up and the spring issue will be included shortly. Check it out at http://www.amstat.org/education/STN. For more information contact:
    Jerry Moreno
    Chair STN newsletter
    Dept of Mathematics
    John Carroll University
    University Heights, OH 44118
    (216) 397-468
    moreno@jcvaxa.jcu.edu.


    The Undergraduate Data Analysis Contest is back after taking a year off. In order to make the contest more accessible this year, the first two rounds of judging will be based solely on students' written analyses of the data set. The third round will take place at the 1998 Joint Statistical Meetings. Please contact Ken Suman at udac@wind.winona.msus.edu as soon as possible if you are interested in judging and/or anticipate having students from your institution interested in participating. This information will be important as the coordinators seek funding. Contest rules, deadlines, and the contest data set are available on the contest's WWW site at http://wind.winona.msus.edu/~udac.


    The second announcement for the International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS5), which will be held in Singapore from June 21 to 26, 1998, will soon be available. It contains, among other things, some details of the scientific program including a list of the invited talks (as known at the end of May, 1997), fees, information on accommodation, tours, and registration forms. As further information on the scientific program becomes available, it will be placed on the Web page: http://www.swin.edu.au/maths/icots5/intro.html. The announcement will also be made available on the WWW at http://www.nie.ac.sig:8000/~wwwmath/icots.html. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the announcement please contact the ICOTS-5 Secretariat:
    Conference & Travel Associates Pty Ltd
    425A Race Course Rd
    Singapore
    218671
    Tel: (65) 299 8992
    Fax: (65) 299 8983
    ctmapl@singnet.com.sg


    The International Study Group for Research on Learning Probability and Statistics is an informal network of researchers from around the world who share information and keep informed of current publications and presentations through an electronic newsletter. The newsletters, edited by Carmen Batanero at The University of Granada, are available either by email or on the World Wide Web. Those wishing to receive the newsletter electronically should contact Carmen Batanero at batanero@goliat.ugr.es. The WWW version is available from the Journal of Statistics Education server at http://www2.ncsu.edu/ncsu/pams/stat/info/infopage.html.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    SECTION ON STATISTICAL EDUCATION PLANS FOR 1997 JOINT MEETINGS

    Roxy Peck
    California Polytechnic State University
    1997 Section Program Chair

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    The Stat Ed Section has an exciting and very full program planned for the Joint Statistical Meetings in August. Plan on staying an extra day to see Disneyland, because there is at least one Stat Ed sponsored session in every time slot!

    We have four invited sessions planned. On Sunday, August 10 at 4:00 p.m. we have a session titled "Capstone Experiences in the Undergraduate Statistics Curriculum" that will take a look at three different approaches to providing a statistics capstone experience for students majoring in statistics. On Monday morning from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. we will be sponsoring one of two special invited poster sessions. This is a new format for the ASA, and the Stat Ed session will feature externally funded projects in statistics education. The posters will address both the project itself and the funding process. Rounding out the invited program are a session chaired by Sandy Weisberg on "Using Graphics to Teach Statistics and Statistics to Teach Graphics" on Tuesday, August 12 from 10:30 p.m. - 12:20 p.m. and on Wednesday, August 13 from 8:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. an invited panel titled "What I Did/Didn't Learn in School and How I Have/Haven't Used it in My First Few Years in Industry".

    In addition to the invited program, there are also three special contributed sessions. Carl Lee has organized a session featuring the winners of the Innovative Programs Using Technology Competition. Innovations in teaching introductory and general education statistics courses will be the theme of a session organized by Neil Schwertman, and Peter Bruce has organized a contributed panel on the use of resampling and simulation in the AP statistics course.

    The regular contributed program is also full of interesting sessions. There are eight in all: Student Attitudes and Performance; Using the Internet, Spreadsheets, and Software in Statistics Courses; Techniques for Teaching Mathematical Statistics; Visualizing Concepts; Integrating Projects, Problems, and PC's into Introductory Statistics Courses; Teaching Non-Traditional Students; Statistics Programs: Past and Present; and Stat Ed Poster Session

    As I said--it is a full program. In addition to the sessions described above, the Stat Ed Section is also co-sponsoring a number of particularly relevant sessions organized by other sections. So, I hope that we will see you at the Stat Ed sessions in Anaheim. And when you register, don't forget to check out the Stat Ed Roundtable Luncheons. This year they are scheduled over two different days so you can even fit in two! Jerry Moreno has done a great job of selecting discussion topics, so even with the opportunity to pick two, it will still be hard to choose.

    For further information contact Roxy Peck at:
    COSAM
    Cal Poly
    San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
    (805) 756-2971
    Fax: (805) 756-1670
    rpeck@calpoly.edu.

    See you in Anaheim!

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    SPOTLIGHT ON DAVID MOORE

    Sherry A. Wasserstein
    Freelance Journalist

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    It really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that the use of statistics has exploded in the area of computer technology, allowing data to be processed at a speed that was never imagined a short time ago. It doesn't matter that every scientific area is now incorporating statistics in a manner that has brought significant changes to the core of statistical studies. And it really doesn't matter that technology has also changed the very nature of the classroom in that now you can teach a course to students who are in another location.

    All of it doesn't matter to the very essence of being a good teacher. Certainly, a good teacher may incorporate all these advancements into the classroom, at the same time keeping up with developments in the practice of statistics in a changing world. In the end, however, good teaching really involves the attitude of being there simply to help students learn and using all your resources to be prepared to meet their needs.

    That, in essence, is the hope and practice of David S. Moore, the Shanti S. Gupta Distinguished Professor of Statistics at Purdue University and President-Elect of the American Statistical Association.

    Moore received his A.B. from Princeton and the Ph.D. from Cornell, both in mathematics, and has written many research papers in statistical theory and served on the editorial boards of several major journals. He is the author of several leading texts, including The Practice of Statistics (co-authored with George McCabe). Moore has served as president of the International Association for Statistical Education, and has received the Mathematical Association of America's national award for distinguished college or university teaching of mathematics.

    It is easy to understand why he has been so honored when reviewing his attitude about the goals of teaching. "The hallmark of good teaching should first of all reflect the changing state of the subject," Moore said. "The instruction should be based on the current state of the subject matter."

    But it involves more than that, he added. It involves the effort to become prepared to teach in a way that students will not only learn, but change any negative attitudes they have about the subject. The key is not just delivery, but involvement.

    In his computer class, for example, he insists that the students do the work right along with him. And if he is teaching a class that is not strictly theory, he prepares good examples with interesting data that comes from real situations, allowing students to see that the material is, indeed, practical in the "real" world.

    "The key is preparation," he said. "I strive to be clear and attentive to the students. I take time to think through what I want to do and preparing. Anyone who wants to can be a good teacher. Poor teaching is simply not caring enough to do thorough preparation."

    Moore shows students on the introductory level that learning statistics is a good idea by showing them the practical side of the science. "In the introductory level we work with data that is more enjoyable for students. I like to hear students say, 'I didn't think I could do it--but I could do it!' Because most need to take statistics but they don't see it as an important tool."

    "So in the introductory course I try to change students' attitudes," he said. He does this, partly, by showing a video about once a week with "real people using real data."

    Moore was also the content developer for the Annenberg/ Corporation for Public Broadcasting college-level statistics telecourse and for a series of video modules intended to aid the teaching of statistics in schools. He sees both benefit and caution in what technology has brought to the teaching of statistics. "The illustration of statistics is changing the attitude toward statistics," he said. With graphical, multi-media software "we can ask students to manipulate graphics, respond to questions, and students can control the pace. It brings a lot of control and a lot of interaction."

    But this new advancement has brought some major rethinking and studying of what core statistical skills will be for future students. "One thing that is happening is that more people are needing quantitative skills. And we are always getting a new set of students."

    "But the content of the graduate level courses has also changed tremendously," he added. "Is it fast enough? In the past, the essential preparation was mathematics...but now it is more and more essential to know computer science. But they still need math." He said "Usually these things are resolved over time. But it is difficult because things are changing so quickly. The core is going to be still open to question."

    "The future of the discipline is up in the air. The impact of technology is so great. Pharmaceutical studies, molecular genetics...they all require specialized knowledge, and statisticians are moving more apart from each other. It is going to become more and more difficult to understand what we mean when we say the 'field' of statistics."

    But all the future changes will still require one thing: teachers that truly care that their students learn what they need to succeed. What does Moore hope students will remember about him? "That he was always prepared, that he cared that we learned," he said.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    STATISTICS EDUCATION RESOURCES ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB

    Steven Rein
    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    Editor's note:We highly recommend your viewing of the html version of this article at the address: http://redrhino.mas.vcu.edu/rein/StatEd/ since it contains direct links to the web pages mentioned in this article.

    It appears that we are always just around the corner from truly using technology and the internet to aid us in the teaching of introductory statistics. Well, I believe we may very well have turned the corner, perhaps without even knowing it.

    With tools such as the internet, hypertext and web browsers, virtually anyone can self publish their opinions, ideas and computing tools. For example, please see "Statistics Every Writer Should Know'' by Robert Niles (reference given below) . Because of this, there is a great wealth to be found out there on the Web ... and much that is truly worthless. For novices to be able to properly sink their teeth into the Web and its resources, a simple pamphlet-like guide to resources of interest appears to be necessary. This is my attempt to provide such a guide for statistics education resources.

    I've attempted to categorize these resources by content but should mention that there is a fair amount of overlap across categories: Statistics Lists of Lists; Statistics Education Research; Case Studies, Datasets, and Stories; Computers as a Calculation/Demonstration Tool; Computers as a Communication Tool; and Other, more general resources. URLs (essentially addresses for each webpage) are given in the reference section where items are listed hierarchically by webserver.

    1. Statistics Lists of Lists.

      Although there is much that is valuable on the World Wide Web, the key to finding what will be valuable to you is to find a good solid reference. Within the discipline of statistics, there appear to be two such starting points that are a bit more thorough than the others, StatLib and the Statistics entry of the WWW Virtual Library.

      StatLib is the creation of Mike Meyer and resides at Carnegie Mellon University. Essentially, it provides links to many of the major statistical resources on the World Wide Web. StatLib also happens to be the place where The Data and Story Library (more on this later) is housed.

      The Statistics entry of the WWW Virtual Library is a similar list of web resources for statisticians and those interested in statistics. Both contain links to publicly available datasets.

    2. Statistics Education Research.

      Much information about the teaching of statistics is available on the Web, particularly through the Journal of Statistics Education. The Journal of Statistics Education describes itself as "an electronic journal on post-secondary teaching of statistics.'' There is much useful information here including an article by Joan Garfield entitled "Teaching Statistics Using Small-Group Cooperative Learning''. (Another excellent article by Garfield that is available on the Web is "How Students Learn Statistics''; see references.)

    3. Case Studies, Datasets, and Stories.

      The Chance course -- where the aim "is to make students more informed, and critical, readers of current news that uses probability and statistics'' --provides through the Chance webpage a list of Teaching Aids (including Data Sets and Programs that a browser can run) as well as Chance News, "a biweekly newsletter providing abstracts of current news items of statistical interest.''

      One of the pages in the StatLib hierarchy is The Data and Story Library which indexes publicly available datasets by topic, statistical method, and data subject matter. The DASL materials not only allow one to quickly search for datasets by topic or method, but by using the powersearch facility, one can look for datasets and stories that relate to one's location (for example, I just found out that Richmond, VA has about 40 inches of rain per year and a mean July temperature of 78).

      The Case Studies page at UCLA has twenty-some real life uses of statistics. For each there is a description of a real life problem, some data, and a few questions appropriate for beginning students. There are also answers provided. UCLA also has a large collection of links to other data sources.

    4. Computers as a Calculation/Demonstration Tool.

      Although few instructors have at this time the resources necessary to access the Web during class time, the following links may be useful if you are creating a webpage for your class and want the students to be able to "try it out themselves''. The Chance webpage has a list of Programs That A Browser Can Run, Duke keeps a list of Java Applets, and UCLA has a list of Statistical Calculators. UCLA also has an excellent collection of Xlisp-Stat Demos (which require Xlisp-Stat to run, but that is freely available). There is also an Xlisp-Stat Archive.

    5. Computers as a Communication Tool.

      Computers are no longer limited to performing calculations and displaying graphs in their role as supporting statistics education. They are also wonderful for communication. The Web is proof of this!

      5.1. Virtual Benchmark Instruction and HyperNews. Andrew Schaffner, David Madigan and others at the University of Washington have done some work on Virtual Benchmark Instruction (VBI). Essentially, a group of students will jointly tackle problems in an online discussion group. The problems are designed to (re-)emphasize key concepts in the course. Through the interaction the students will clarify much of their own misunderstandings. Details can be found on the Statistics Education Research web page. HyperNews is the software used at the University of Washington for VBI but can also be used for any sort of online class discussions. It should run on most webservers.

      5.2. Usenet and E-mail Lists. Of the thousands and thousands of usenet newsgroups, two stand out as potentially valuable for teachers of statistics: sci.stat.edu and sci.stat.math. Sci.stat.math may be of interest to those teaching more advanced courses as the content is a bit theoretical in nature and certainly less aimed at issues of statistics education than is sci.stat.edu.

      Sci.stat.edu covers the teaching and learning of statistics and contains exactly the same discussions as does Listserv (e-mail list) EdStat-L. Literally, the usenet group is linked to the Listserv group so that any articles posted to the usenet site are automatically e-mailed to the Listserv members and any e- mails sent to EdStat-L are posted to sci.stat.edu. If you don't have access to usenet or prefer e-mail over usenet, you may want to subscribe to EdStat-L.

      To subscribe to EdStat-L, simply send an e-mail to listserv@jse.stat.ncsu.edu where the body of you e-mail should read: subscribe edstat-l YOUR NAME (where, of course, you would replace "YOUR NAME" with your name).

    6. Other, more general resources.

      There are literally hundreds of lists of lists and links to links on the Web. The two that I've personally found the most helpful in general are Alta Vista and Yahoo!.

      Yahoo! looks like an index. From the home page, one can select "Society and Culture'', "Government'', "Reference'' or any of several other categories. Under each of these categories are several others which somewhat sub-divide the main category. For example, under "Society and Culture'' are "Museums and Exhibits'', "Race Relations'' and others. On each page, Yahoo! lists appropriate sub-categories and web pages. Yahoo! also has a search facility that typically will give some excellent starting points within the category hierarchy for any particular topic.

      Alta Vista is substantially different. While Yahoo! is a list of lists and fairly easy to use, Alta Vista could be thought of as a organizationally challenged librarian. You can approach Alta Vista with a search term (or terms) and the result should be (in theory) a listing of links to all the pages (sometimes thousands) that include this term. It is often useful to combine search terms to narrow the results a bit. The results are ordered by a score which relates to how well each of the documents contains the search terms. This ordering, however, is not much like the ordering that a real human would give the list as it doesn't group the results into recognizable categories. Alta Vista does allow you to fine-tune your search by adding new words or by restricting the results to exclude particular words (or even domains).

    7. References

    For further information contact Steven Rein at Virginia Commonwealth University
    Department of Mathematical Sciences
    Richmond, VA 23284-2014
    (804) 828-1301 x136
    srein@vcu.edu.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    ON STATISTICS PROGRAMS

    Robert V. Hogg
    University of Iowa

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    1. Background:

      As of June, 1997, I will have been at the University of Iowa for 50 years. During the first three years of those fifty, I served as a graduate assistant at what was then called the State University of Iowa (SUI). With the name Hogg, people often observed that they could see why I was attracted to SUI, due to that pig called "sooo-eee". However, with my Ph.D. in hand, I became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics in 1950. Later in 1965 we started the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. While the Actuarial Science in the name was added later, we always included the actuaries in this new department, and that has been a very satisfactory "marriage".

      In addition to being the Executive Officer of Iowa's department for 19 years, I have visited many other Departments of Statistics. I have learned a few things, some from the good and some from the evil, namely the various mistakes, many of those being mine. Finally, during the period January-May, 1997, I visited statistics units at 14 universities; some of these were in Industrial Engineering, Business Colleges, and Mathematics, but most were Departments of Statistics. While these observations are fresh in my mind, I decided to write two reports: the first dealing with Statistics Programs and a second concerning Continuous Quality Improvement in Higher Education, which will appear elsewhere.

      Before focusing on statistics programs, let me address a feeling that I have about statisticians and the statistical profession. Frankly, I do not find enough cooperation among the members of our community. Are we really supportive and flexible enough when the opportunities arise to help other statisticians? These might involve visits to other universities, special research or teaching opportunities, or evaluations of grant proposals. Do we really reach out to help? I guess that I want us to be a family of statisticians working together for the good of the professions. We should want to share information, benchmark other programs, and recruit more young people as professional statisticians. Moreover, we should do much more to sell statistics to the general public. Statisticians can be collaborator (even leaders) on major projects, and yet very few have any notion that this is possible. Instead many of us are faced with a reward system that almost forces us to be loners; certainly the tenure system is laden with fear.

      The American Statistical Association (ASA) should be, and is to some extent, addressing some of these concerns. However, we need much more substantial efforts at a national level to achieve the necessary progress. A short session involving departmental chairs and heads at our annual meeting is not enough to discuss seriously major concerns about the directions of our profession. Let us do as many other professions do and get key people together at least once per year and brainstorm about appropriate actions that will benefit the profession. Statistics has been fairly strong in the past and super for me personally for 50 years; I only hope that the young people of today can have that same viable option that I had fifty years ago.

    2. Present Graduate Programs:

      Various statisticians can come up with different ideas about the nature of statistics, but I think most of us would agree that the following is close to what we want to do in the practice of statistics: (a) Create measures for problems under consideration; (b) Collect data through surveys, experimentation, or observations recognizing that some uncertainty exists in these data; (c) Analyze the data and provide information, again with an element of uncertainty; (d) Prepare a report with recommendations, beginning with a brief executive summary (that is, KISS: Keep It Simple Statistician).

      It has been my observation that we spend most of the time in our academic programs on point (c). The usual Applied M.S. program is something like this: 2 or 3 courses in probability and mathematical statistics; 3 or 4 courses in regression, design and analysis of experiments, and multivariate analysis. These courses include response surfaces and computing (that is, the use of some statistical software); 3-5 electives from time series, nonparametric statistics, data analysis, sampling, statistical quality control, consulting, and categorical data. A more theoretical M.S. program for Ph.D. students would contain some mathematical analysis and an advanced probability course or two in place of some of the electives.

      Most universities with statistics departments have created some sort of statistical consulting center; such a center provides valuable experience for the students. I believe that these centers should be more aggressive and provide experiences for more students than they do at present. Also most statistics departments seemed to have reasonable computing facilities, but these must be improved continuously as advances are made in technology.

      It is clear that not enough is done to recruit students (particularly Americans) to our profession. While this might be a job for ASA, each of our departments can contribute some to this effort by visiting nearby undergraduate programs in math (or even high schools). Each such effort helps, even though most of us would be thinking primarily of our own department. It certainly must concern all of us to see the closing of an occasional department of statistics in this country. We believe that statistics is important, and we must attract a sufficient number of students. In my opinion, most of our programs are not flexible and modern enough. I will say more about this later because if we do not change, we will see more such closings.

    3. Systems Approach:

      The department should decide on its mission, purpose, aim, goals etc., and have a team to design a curriculum to reflect these (see Section 7 on Curriculum Review). After consulting appropriate persons (students, alums, businesses, other faculty in and out of department, etc.) create a "core" for each desirable program.

      In particular, a Board of Advisors consisting of alumni and other influential friends might be most worthwhile. To maximize any system we must recognize that we are dealing with many interdependent parts, and we can not just try to maximize each of them. We really want to create a community of scholars, working together and recognizing that all of us do not have the same strengths or interests. Hence these cores reflect what we think best for the students in each of our programs. Some courses (core and elective) would possibly be team taught.

      My guess is that a first-year statistics core in graduate school will consist of some studies that deal with theoretical, applied, and computational skills. Possibly we have not stressed the latter enough in the past, but clearly we must consider the present and future technologies and take advantage of them. These include knowledge of excellent statistical software, spreadsheets, managing data bases, and data mining, in addition to being more concerned about the quality of these data bases. Others (computer science, electrical engineering, business, etc.) will be (or are) teaching these if we are not interested. With large data sets, nonparametric methods can be used to determine the "middles." There is still a concern about the variation (skewed, heavy tailed) and statisticians can help, if we will, about predictions concerning future observations.

      Certainly no one course should be "owned" by one professor if others are capable of teaching it. We might look forward to the day in which an expert in some subject who is at another university and teaches his/her specialty to those at other universities; this possibility is closer than most of us believe. In this regard, I find that we require too many courses for the Ph.D. degree. Beyond the Casella and Berger level, we need a good theory sequence, a Linear Model/Multivariate sequence, and a strong probability sequence. After that students can take electives, maybe given through Topics, possibly taught by one of these outside experts. These courses might include topics such as nonparametric regression (estimation and graphics in general), spatial statistics, computer intensive methods (particularly with Bayesian methods and resampling), empirical processes, non-linear dynamics, stochastic differential equations, and sequential methods (including meta analysis).

    4. The Statistical Community:

      (a) Senior faculty should be mentors for junior faculty and graduate students in research and in teaching. Graduate students should, at least once per semester, receive some report on their progress, but this would be better given on a continuous basis.

      (b) Advanced graduate students should help the beginning students. It would be worthwhile to have a weekly seminar for all graduate students. Three or four students would report each week on topics appropriate for the levels of the students in that program. The faculty advisor would assign the topics (possibly with help of students) and require attendance of all students in the program. The graduate students would get to know each other so as to help one another and hopefully create a little "esprit de corps." Such a seminar would also help improve the "people skills" of the graduate students; this would also be true with involvement in the consulting service.

      (c) Faculty members should discuss their experiences in various courses with other instructors, particularly with those who follow teaching the same courses. It is important that we agree on topics in one course that is a prerequisite for another; otherwise the instructor of the second course has big problems.

      (d) We should ask for feedback from students (minute papers, punctuated lectures, quality teams reporting each week) and give them feedback on the feedback. Students cannot tell us what to teach, but they know when they are bored or confused. I am convinced that all of us want to be better teachers, and we should discuss among community members how to improve. As an example, would it be helpful to put notes on the web? The students would like this, but attendance might be worse than it is now in large lectures. (Note: I have found that providing students with solutions of quiz and test questions immediately afterwards is beneficial.) In general, there should be more interaction among students and their instructors. (See Hogg's "Continuous Quality Improvement in Higher Education" for more suggestions.)

      (e) Leaders should be helpful in facilitating the professional development of others. People want to feel good about themselves and their efforts; so real effective leaders should try to end discussions (some can be painful) on some kind of positive note. It never hurts to ask about a spouse or the children; such a personal interest lets the other person know that you care about him or her and his/her family. This is important (and I'm not always certain that I was real good at this in the past; I must improve).

      (f) To address some of these items (and others like the reward structure), an occasional retreat of the faculty might be very valuable. These (as well as other meetings) can be overdone, but sometimes they are needed to discuss seriously the goals of the unit and the best ways of achieving them. Maybe these retreats, usually held most successfully off- campus, would make department members feel more like being on one team that is an important part of the university.

      (g) The present reward and tenure structure is such that many tend to be more loyal to the profession than to the university. More should be done to interact with others on campus, possibly collaborating with faculty in other fields. Such interaction would make us feel as if we belong to the university community.

    5. Partnerships in the Extended Community:

      We must search for these partners. As statisticians we have a certain advantage in cross-disciplinary activities as most researchers will collect data and will need these analyzed to get the maximum amount of information from them. These partners can be from our own campus, possibly resulting in joint research (grants, contracts, etc.) for faculty or cross- disciplinary theses (co-majors) for our students. Off-campus partnerships can lead to consulting, internships, or projects involving some unstructured problems. Often if these are close enough to campus, M.S. or Ph.D. theses could result from these involvements in substantial problems. Certainly stronger and more aggressive statistical consulting services with strong faculty involvement will help promote some of these partnerships. And these outside involvements certainly can not hurt, but almost always improve, the people skills.

      In this regard, I wish that some statisticians would be entrepreneurs. We must sell the value of statistical thinking to others. We must explain to others the power of statistics as being very supportive to good research involving the collection of data. Often examples and case studies could be useful in such situations, encouraging students in other fields to take more statistics. Of course, some of our Ph.D. students should be involved in cross-disciplinary research, possibly through co- majors with another area.

      Then too we can convince others that statisticians can help in their programs. For example, if a Business College is preparing students as Quality Managers with courses in human relationships, planning, and budgeting, appropriate statistical methods could also be most useful in such a program. The Japanese recognized the importance of the technical aspects in this area of quality improvement and used it. Moreover, there are many areas, in addition to Business, that need statistical help. Certainly joint appointments in these areas would be worthwhile in various situations. It has always been amazing to me why joint appointments are much more successful at some universities than others. Maybe it is due to different cultures or leadership.

      Of course, situations at some universities could call for efforts larger than helping a few individual programs. It could be that certain colleges (Medicine, Business, Education) have very little statistical help for their research. Depending upon the situation, the organization of a Statistical Institute (or Center) might be very appropriate. This might be difficult to sell such a unit, but then some of us should be entrepreneurs. Give it a try.

      Often a simple way to wave the statistical flag when there are enough statisticians in a Mathematics Department, say, is simply to rename the department as Mathematics and Statistics. Sometimes certain mathematicians object to this change. It is difficult for me to see why this is opposed as such a move would clearly help to recruit students to that department. Many departments have done this very successfully. As a matter of fact, it might be extremely helpful to work with the mathematicians and introduce a course in "Introduction to Mathematical Sciences" so that those with mathematical ability can see the possible options for them in the future.

    6. Service Courses:

      In our profession, we have the opportunity to teach many service courses and we should try to find additional ones when appropriate. Since they are often our "bread and butter" activity (for graduate student support), we must try to improve them on a continuous basis. In particular, we must address how best to deal with the large lecture courses. None of us is really happy with the present situation. Yet we must recognize that we can not use TAs to teach smaller sections because this would defeat the university's mission to have more faculty in those freshman/sophomore courses. There are people in the profession that believe we should try to emphasize "statistical thinking" rather than recording lots of statistical techniques. Many instructors find that student projects truly help in this thinking. I'm inclined to agree with them, but I recognize that the big majority of students taking those courses simply want a grade (hopefully A or B) to satisfy a requirement rather than learn a little statistics. Maybe we should be satisfied if a few (perhaps the top 25%) understand our message and thus teach to them. Then tell the others how to get "that grade" by being able to "plug in" a few numbers in some formula. Maybe by doing the latter, the students will get some idea about the error structure of a statistic and thus understand why statisticians always put a "plus or minus" after our estimates. Nevertheless, I do believe that we should address the problem of large lectures (they are here to stay) and maybe a little brainstorming or benchmarking will help improve the situation somewhat. For example, in teaching statistics (as with mathematics and languages) the students can not miss the first 4 weeks and expect to pick up immediately as they might in history. This might suggest that we create modules so that different students can proceed at different speeds. After all, all do not learn in the same way. Our smaller and somewhat more advanced service courses in statistical methods and mathematical statistics are in better shape, but we should continue to check with our "customers" (other departments) to make certain that we are doing the best possible job.

    7. Curriculum Review:

      I believe that in most statistics departments the curriculum has developed in a somewhat ad hoc fashion, and it is revised from time to time by making minor modifications of the previous plan. Most often the curriculum does not represent the department's goals, even in cases in which these are spelled out. Accordingly I would urge each statistics department, possibly in cooperation with other statistics departments, to assess seriously its curriculum. To help us do this, I have modified an outline that the Southeastern University and College Coalition for Engineering Education (SUCCEED) has created for engineering departments. This modification was made from an outline given in SUCCEED's Executive Summary, and its full report has not yet been finalized.

      (a) Strategic Planning. The members of the department should meet and discuss seriously the situation. Often this can best be done in a one-day retreat away from campus so that distractions such as phone calls can be eliminated. Hopefully the faculty can agree on such things as the purpose, mission, goals, and aims of the department. Does the present curriculum satisfy these? If not, some general principles could possibly be agreed upon and consideration given to guiding principles of the revision. Such a revision might consist of minor adjustment to the present program; but, on the other hand, it might involve a major re-engineering that, for example, might involve a team-taught core program for first-year graduate students (and possibly some very good undergraduate students). However, at the end of this phase, a decision would be made whether or not there is support to continue the consideration of a curriculum revision.

      (b) Preparation. If the decision is to continue, a Curriculum Design Team (CDT) should be formed. While input from junior faculty members, as well as others, is important, it is probably best not to have untenured faculty serving on the CDT. In analyzing the existing curriculum, it would be very important to get feedback from recent alumni in order to find out the present program's good and bad features. The CDT should also benchmark other existing programs that seem to be cutting edge of the profession. With as much background as possible on new and old areas, we can progress to designing a new curriculum.

      (c) The Design of the New Curriculum. With the information found in (b), some consensus process should be established to help the faculty select a new curriculum which reflects the goals of the department. As might be expected, "turf battles" might be fought, but the CDT and chair of the department would need to resolve these as well as possible. Once this is done course-specific issues should be addressed. At the conclusion of this work, an overall structure of the new curriculum will result with the identification of its component parts and the division of the subject material into course-sized segments.

      (d) Beginning of the New Curriculum. Once agreed upon, the chair and the faculty will begin to implement the new curriculum, with much depending upon the timing and funding of this new venture. Assuming the funding is available, the CDT will lay out a schedule that will implement the new program within two years. It should be understood, as the new curriculum is taught, that it should be continuously assessed and improved.

    8. Conclusion:

      I am certain that I have not mentioned everything that should be looked at as we consider necessary changes. However, if we look at our department as a system, we might be able to utilize our members more effectively, even giving some larger teaching loads depending upon the abilities involved. Of course, different assignments would need to be taken into account in rewarding those individuals. We do need improvement, however, and some might enjoy reading my "Continuous Quality Improvement for Higher Education" along with this report;. I am hopeful for the future as we make appropriate changes.

    For more information contact:
    Bob Hogg
    Dept. of Statistics & Actuarial Science
    University of Iowa
    Iowa City IA 52242
    (319) 335-0824
    bhogg@stat.uiowa.edu

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    ASA ADVISES NCTM ON K-12 STANDARDS UPDATE

    Tom Moore
    Grinnell College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    In December of 1996 ASA President Lynne Billard appointed a committee of seven ASA members to help advise the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) as it undertakes to update and revise the Standards that it produced for K-12 mathematics about a decade ago. The NCTM Standards comprise three volumes and describe standards for curriculum, evaluation, assessment, and instruction. ASA is one of several professional organizations in the mathematical sciences that have, at the request of NCTM, formed advisory groups for this standards update. The purpose of this article is to update you on our progress and to encourage those interested in the Standards to attend an "Open discussion meeting on NCTM Standards update" from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 13, in the Santa Monica Room of the Hilton at the Joint Statistical Meetings.

    During December and January, this ASA Advisory Review Group (ARG) developed a response to a set of 4 questions posed by NCTM regarding updating the Standards. These questions asked: (1) What is the proper "view" of mathematics that we should teach K-12 students? (2) Do the Standards convey a sense of consistency and growth in content themes as students move across grade levels? (3) Do the Standards adequately reflect the mathematical understanding of a student graduating in the 21st century?, and (4) How could an updated Standards blend the ideas described currently in the three sets of Standards?

    The ARG sent a response to this set of questions to NCTM in late January. This response is described in an article in the May Amstat News and the full text can be seen at: http://www2.ncsu.edu/pams/stat/stated/nctm.html.

    In April and May the ARG discussed and formulated a response to NCTM questions about the role of algorithms and algorithmic thinking and about the role of mathematical proof in K-12 mathematics. This response can also be found at the website of the Section on Statistical Education.

    Comments or suggestions about ARG activities may be addressed to me (as chair of the committee) or any member of the committee. The other members of the committee are Carol Joyce Blumberg (Winona State University), Christine Franklin (University of Georgia), Jerry Moreno (John Carroll University), Judith O'Fallon (Mayo Clinic), Rosemary Roberts (Bowdoin College), & Richard Scheaffer (University of Florida).

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    CURRENT ACTIVITIES OF ASA'S CENTER FOR STATISTICAL EDUCATION

    Chris Maley
    Education Coordinator, ASA

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    While the American Statistical Association is primarily a professional organization, 1997 finds the ASA Center for Statistical Education continuing its commitment to bringing statistics to students, encouraging the use of statistics in the classroom, and promoting the value of statistical practices and methods to teachers and students alike.

    The ASA will be sponsoring a series of workshops this summer for teachers in grades K-12 with the express purpose of bringing statistics into the classroom and also of facilitating the use of statistical methods within the broader study of the natural sciences. If you would like more information on these workshops, please contact Sue Kulesher at ASA at (703) 684- 1221 x150; sue@amstat.org.

    The Center for Statistical Education also sponsors a poster and project competition for students in grades K-12. While many students may view statistical practice and data collection as a tedious endeavor at best, the poster and project competitions endeavor to make statistics entertaining and vital to classroom study. The winners of both competitions receive recognition for their accomplishments and have their work proudly displayed at the Joint Statistical Meetings.

    At the Joint Statistical Meetings in Anaheim this year, the ASA will also sponsor the second annual Public Statistics Day. First held at last year's meetings in Chicago, Public Statistics Day provides a forum for K-12 students to learn statistical concepts and methods from ASA members in a relaxed, entertaining atmosphere.

    The Center for Statistical Education is also pleased to be a part of the upcoming Science Education and Quantitative Literacy (SEAQL) Workshops. Response to this program has been overwhelming; if you would like to participate in this program in 1998 for a fee, or know someone who would, please contact me. Editors' Note: Information on SEAQL and the upcoming workshops is given in the article by Jeff Witmer that follows this article.

    In addition to these activities, the Center for Statistical Education is active in several committees supported by the ASA, including the Advisory Committee on Continuing Education, the Advisory Committee on Quantitative Literacy, the ASA-MAA Joint Committee on Undergraduate Statistics, and the ASA-NCTM Joint Committee on the Curriculum in Statistics and Probability. The goal of each of these committees is to improve and expand upon the role played by statistics within the framework of a general education program.

    As you can see, this is a very busy, yet rewarding, time for the Center for Statistical Education. If you would like further information on the CSE or the programs and activities mentioned above, please contact:
    Chris Maley
    American Statistical Association
    732 N. Washington St.
    Alexandria, VA 22314-1943
    (703) 684-1221x162
    chris@amstat.org.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    SCIENCE EDUCATION AND QUANTITATIVE LITERACY

    Jeff Witmer
    Oberlin College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    The Quantitative Literacy program has successfully affected the teaching of many mathematics teachers around the country. Now ASA is working with science teachers to enhance science education through the use of statistical ideas. Following the pattern of the QL program, the Science Education and Quantitative Literacy (SEAQL) project involves high school science teachers, middle school science teachers, and statisticians as leaders of workshops aimed at enhancing the preparation of high school and middle school science teachers.

    Science students routinely collect large amounts of data that are used to answer specific questions. In a typical science class, each student completes a procedure and determines some sort of answer, for example, the density of a substance. Rarely are class data compared to anything other than an accepted value, as found in a reference book. SEAQL seeks to foster genuine exploration of data in science laboratory activities that promote a view of science as exploration and modeling, rather than only as confirmation of facts that are already known. We advocate using boxplots, median-fit lines, and related tools in the analysis of science data in order to place emphasis on discovery.

    Teachers using SEAQL ideas might have each student add his or her data to a class stem-leaf diagram, which is then turned into a boxplot. The class can then discuss the data, noting the median and deviations from the median, outliers, skewness, and other features. This helps the students develop an appreciation of inherent variation, measurement bias, and accuracy. Indeed, experience suggests that students are more inclined to try to be accurate in their measurements when they know that their data will end up as part of a class boxplot -- no one wants to be an outlier!

    In SEAQL workshops teachers are taught data analysis techniques using the Exploring Data QL book and are given experience using these techniques with data that are generated during the workshop. During the workshops, which last between two and four weeks, we conduct science labs in biology, physics, chemistry, earth science, and general science that are, for the most part, familiar to the teachers. We then use QL ideas in analyzing the data.

    Other aspects of the workshops include instruction in the use of graphing calculators and calculator-based-lab equipment, such as a temperature probe for gathering data during a heat of reaction experiment, discussion of non- standard labs that teachers have used with success, group projects in which participants gather and analyze data of their own choosing, time for teachers to prepare lesson plans as they consider how they will use SEAQL in their science classes, and brief consideration of statistical aspects of experimental design.

    In 1994 the SEAQL project received an NSF grant that runs through 1997. The first SEAQL workshop was held in 1995 at Johns Hopkins University. Two workshops were held during the summer of 1996 -- one at John Carroll University in Cleveland and one at San Jose State University in San Jose. In 1997 we are conducting workshops at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, and again at John Carroll University in Cleveland. We conduct follow-up sessions with the workshop participants during the academic year. Participants have reported considerable success in using SEAQL ideas in their classes and are very enthusiastic.

    For more information, please contact Cathy Crocker at the ASA office
    (703-684-1221, ext. 146)
    cathyc@amstat.org

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    PME (PSYCHOLOGY OF MATHEMATICS EDUCATION) WORKING GROUP ON THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF STOCHASTICS

    John Truran
    University of Adelaide

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    (Stochastics is used here in the European sense as a generic term encompassing probability, statistics and combinatorics.)

    This small group of about 20 people is formed of researchers with a special interest in psychological aspects of the teaching and learning of stochastics - a topic which has attracted increasing attention in recent years. Membership covers a remarkably large number of countries and language groups. It might be seen as essentially a focused subset of those people who receive the Newsletter of the International Study Group for Research on Learning Probability and Statistics.

    After two years as a Discussion Group, the Group has developed into a Working Group with the aim of preparing a document looking at some form of codifying stochastics research. It is clear that newcomers to this field experience difficulty in accessing and evaluating the relevant material, and that much significant work not written in English is not as widely known as it deserves. It is also clear that our research is not having as much influence in the classroom as it should.

    Plans for this document are still being developed. At the meeting of PME in Finland in July 1997, some possible approaches to preparing the document will be put forward for discussion. We want the document to be more than an annotated bibliography; we want it to link the literature together in a way which will make it more accessible to both researchers and teachers and which will provide an authoritative basis for further work. It will probably be structured around a small number of critical papers in each aspect of the subject. We anticipate that it will also help to identify those areas still in need of careful investigation.

    The Group is also having talks with another PME Working Group - that on Advanced Mathematical Thinking. It is possible that we may contribute a chapter on Advanced Statistical Thinking to a book which that Group is planning. This represents a significant link between Mathematicians and Statisticians which we see as particularly valuable.

    The group stays in contact mainly through electronic mail, and a newsletter is distributed every 2 months. It is not restricted to those who actually attend PME Conferences, and we are sufficiently multi-lingual to receive work not written in English. Anyone who would like to be involved with this Group, or who would like to suggest material which could be of value for its publications is invited to contact one of the convenors: Carmen Batanero at batanero@goliat.ugr.es; Kath Truran at Kath.Truran@unisa.edu.au or John Truran at:
    Mathematics Education
    Graduate School of Education
    University of Adelaide
    South Australia 5005
    +618 8373 0490 (home + answering machine)
    Fax +618 8303 3604
    jtruran@arts.adelaide.edu.au

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATION AND STATISTICS EDUCATION

    Patricia L. Busk
    University of San Francisco

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is composed of 10 Divisions and more than 100 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) focusing on particular aspects of education. Within each Division, there may be as many as 6 sections addressing different aspects of the Divisional topic. Members of AERA belong to one or more Divisions and one or more SIGs. Most individuals conduct research in educational areas in academic arenas ranging from elementary to post- secondary and report the results of their research at the annual meeting of AERA. The researchers may be faculty members in Schools of Education in colleges and universities, teachers or administrators in school districts, staff of federally- and state-funded research centers, staff of large testing companies, or members of local, state, and federal departments of education. There is an international presence with researchers from many countries presenting results of their research in their home countries.

    Division C (Learning and Instruction) has a section that has an interest in statistical education: Section 2 Mathematics. Within this section, the emphasis is on research on learning, instruction, and assessment including problem solving, concept and strategy growth and change, as well as psychological, social, and cultural factors in mathematics learning. A SIG that often cosponsors sessions with Division C is Research in Mathematics Education (RME). Recent sessions focusing on mathematics learning have addressed adolescent understanding of sampling in the context of a survey, visual manipulatives for propositional reasoning, exploring students' informal knowledge of statistics in the middle school, assessing mathematics knowledge with concept maps and interpretive essays, and mathematical thinking.

    At the elementary-, middle-, and secondary-school levels of instruction, educators are concerned with the results of research using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data. For example, Sharon Bobbitt (National Center for Educational Statistics) reported on schools effects, teacher preparation, and their impact on students' math self- concept at the 1995 annual meeting, and Frank Jenkins' (ETS) NAEP mathematics attribution study was presented at the 1997 meeting in Chicago. The annual meeting of AERA also is held in conjunction with the National Council of Measurement in Education. During the joint sessions, as well as for each individual meeting, technical and theoretic aspects of the NAEP assessment are addressed, for example, innovative item types from a NAEP field test, evaluation of content validity, methods of evaluating differential item functioning and bias, and scoring of performance items.

    Two other SIGs focus on statistical education at the post- secondary level or in higher education: Educational Statisticians (ES) and Professors of Educational Research (PER). The SIG-ES has had an emphasis on the teaching of statistics since its inception in the 1970s. The president of SIG-ES either organizes or designates a session on teaching statistics. Initially the concentration was on how specific statistical topics could or should be taught and on evaluating statistics texts used in education and psychology. More recently the focus has shifted to the learning of statistics and understanding and meeting the needs of the learner, for example, William Mickelson's (University of Idaho) presentation on bridging the gap between students and statistics addressing cognition, affect, and the role of teaching methods. The results of using Cognitive Apprenticeship models in statistics courses (John Willett, Judith Singer, Susan Prion, and Patricia Busk) have been reported at the 1995 annual meeting and cooperative learning groups (Robert Abbott) have been reported at the 1992 annual meeting.

    Often members of SIG-ES and SIG-PER will collaborate on sessions to address issues relating to statistical learning. In 1994, one joint session dealt with using computers and computer applications to facilitate instruction and learning of statistics and research design. Sessions in New Orleans (1994), New York (1996), and Chicago (1997) have included multimedia instruction in introductory statistics courses (Gerard Giraud), Internet resources for teaching statistics (J. Laurie Snell and Joan Garfield), and technological advances (John Behrens, Paul Vellman, and Jan de Leeuw).

    Frequently a student is treated only as someone to instruct rather than as a learner whose attitudes and affect must be considered. Recent sessions have attempted to correct this deficit: Kathy Green's (University of Denver) research on affective components of attitude and statistics instruction; Mathew Mitchell's (University of San Francisco) research on situational interest in the statistics classroom; Christine DiStefano and Paul Schutz's (University of Georgia) patterns of knowledge, attitude, and strategy use in an instruction to statistics class; and Joe Wisenbaker and Janice Scott's (University of Georgia) modeling aspects of students' attitudes and achievement in introductory statistics courses. Statistical and mathematical anxiety have long been topics of research for SIG-ES and SIG-PER.

    Professor David Moore challenged individuals attending the 1997 SIG-ES business meeting with his invited address on Synergy in Statistics Education: Context, Pedagogy, Technology. I am certain that his message is well known to those in ASA's Statistical Education section; his message was welcomed by many attending the address and viewed with skepticism by those who still cling to the old ways of teaching. Professor Moore's talk provided insights into ways that new activities can foster a conceptual understanding of statistics.

    SIG-ES welcomes new members from ASA. You do not need to be a member of AERA to join. The dues for one year are $4.00, which means that you will be supporting the work of SIG-ES, receive two newsletters, and the directory of members. For membership and other information, contact:
    Gabriella Belli
    Virginia Tech
    7054 Haycock Road
    Room 454
    Falls Church, VA 22043-2311
    (703)538-8477
    gbelli@vt.edu. The URL for the SIG-ES home page is: http://seamonkey.ed.asu.edu/~behrens/edstat.sig.home.html.

    Papers from some of the sessions are available through ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation (AE). The URL address for tracking ERIC-AE papers from the annual meeting is http://erica2.educ.cua.edu. The complete program for the 1997 AERA annual meeting is available as a fully searchable database at http://www.ed.asu.edu/aera.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    SOME IMPRESSIONS OF THE IASE ROUNDTABLE: THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN TEACHING STATISTICS

    J. Laurie Snell
    Dartmouth College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    I have been asked to write about my personal experience attending the IASE Roundtable Conference on Research on the Role of Technology in Teaching and Learning Statistics held in Granada, Spain from July 23-27, 1996. My most vivid memory is of the warm summer evening when our wonderful hosts, Carmen Batanero and Juan Godino, took us to an outdoor cafe for tapas and then to a hill overlooking the city of Granada where we had more tapas. This same hill was the setting for a classical guitar concert arranged for us by the Mayor of Granada and presented in a beautiful outdoor garden.

    Concerning the conference itself, my biggest surprise was to learn that there was a lot more going on, in the development of computer software for teaching statistics and research on its use, than I was aware of from attending meetings in the United States. This was a truly international meeting that showed that exciting things are going on in this field all over the world. We can thank the modern miracle of e-mail for the fact that Joan Garfield both knew exactly the right people to bring together and was able to bring them together in such a wonderful setting. Thanks again to modern technology you will soon be able to read the proceedings of this conference both in hard copy and on the Internet.

    The participants were a wonderfully congenial group and by the time we left we were all best of friends. I will especially remember this conference as the place that I met Dani Ben-Zvi from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to telling us about his interesting research using technology to teach Israeli junior high school statistics, Dani's good spirit and great questions brought out the best in us. When Dani realized that many of us were talking about, but not showing off, our software, he ran all over the University collecting Macs and PCs to put on a special "show and tell" session where we could show people how our technology really worked.

    My final impression from the conference was that it is really difficult to decide how effective computer software is in teaching statistics. A lot of things we do to improve our teaching are based on our own interests and what we like. They are not the result of careful studies to determine their effectiveness. What we learned at this meeting is that such research is now being done and promises to give us some answers to the very hard question: "what works?". Editors' note: An edited collection of papers presented at the conference along with summaries of group discussions will be available soon. Contact Joan Garfield for more information.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page


    ASA INVOLVEMENT IN THE HIGH SCHOOL MATHEMATICS COMPETITIONS

    Don Bentley
    Pomona College

    Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
    Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1997)


    For a number of years, the ASA has been a co-sponsor of the high school American Mathematics Competitions. These competitions form the selection process for the United States Mathematics Olympiad team. The first in the series of exams is the AHSME (American High School Mathematics Exam) which is taken by over 600,000 self-selected high school students each year. The top performers on this exam are invited to participate in the AIME (American Invitational Mathematics Exam) from which the top group is invited to take a third exam, the AMO (American Mathematics Olympiad). On the basis of their performance on these exams, a six person team is selected to represent the United States in the International Mathematics Olympiad. A non-competitive examination is also run for junior high school students.

    To match the recent trend in our high school mathematics programs, the competition committees would like to put more emphasis on statistics. To implement this, there is a need for creative and original statistics questions. Those involved in the competition are looking forward to the summer of 2001 when the United States will serve as host to the international competitions. Over the next several years, there will be a call by the host committee for support from persons and corporations.

    The ASA representative on the Committee on American Mathematics Competitions is:
    Don Bentley
    Dept of Mathematics
    Pomona College
    Claremont, CA 91711
    (909) 607-2941
    dbentley@pomona.edu.

    Return to Top
    Return to Newsletter Home Page