ASA Stat. Ed. Section Newsletter - V7 N2

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

Contents of Volume 7, Number 2 (Spring 2001):
  • Message from the Chair
  • Editors
  • Subscription Information
  • Mark Your Calendar
  • Roundtable Luncheons for JSM 2001
  • New Web Resource for Mathematics and Statistics Education
  • Mathematics Association Publishes Resource Book for Statistics
  • Workshop on Teaching with Sports Examples at JSM
  • MAA Has Special Interest Group for Statistics Education
  • New Graduate Programs in Statistics Education
  • AERA Educational Statisticians Meet in Seattle
  • Ideas Needed for the World Numeracy Project
  • Getting "Beyond the Formula" in Statistics
  • JSE in the New Millennium
  • Recent PhD's in Statistics Education
  • Statistics Education at the ASA
  • The Star Library is ready for Launch!
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    Message from the Chair

    Allan J. Rossman
    Dickinson College

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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

    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

    Tom Moore
    Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
    Grinnell College
    Grinnell, IA 50112
    (641) 269-4206
    Fax: (641) 269-4985

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

    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.

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

    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

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    Roundtable Luncheons for JSM 2001

    John Holcomb
    Cleveland State University

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

    We are very excited to have 10 Roundtables sponsored by the Section on Statistics Education. The topics run quite a spectrum of interests. Sessions topics include issues on K-12 education, introductory statistics, minor/major curriculums in statistics, training of student interns, world wide web resources, and training the next generation of graduate students. To read more about these sessions, click on holcombj/ and look for the link on JSM 2001 Roundtables.

    The titles and organizers (in no particular order) are: Bringing QL into the K-12 Classroom, Lee Abramson, U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; A Simple Approach to Give Beginning Statistics Students the Power to Use Regression/Linear Models, Joe Ward, Health Careers High School; Using Humor in Introductory Statistics, Jackie Miller, Drury University; Developing Statistical Reasoning in the Introductory Statistics Course, Joan Garfield, University of Minnesota; Creating and Sustaining an Undergraduate Statistics Major, Thad Tarpey, Wright State University; Creating and Sustaining an Undergraduate Statistics Minor or Concentration, Brad Hartlaub, Kenyon University; Recruitment, Education, and Utilization of Student Interns in Industry, John Peterson, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, R&D; Making Best Use of the World Wide Web in Statistics Education, Todd Ogden, NYS Psychiatric Institute; Outreach to our High School Teaching Colleagues, Linda Quinn, QED Industries, Inc.; Pursuing a Job in Statistics Education: A Discussion for Graduate Students, Deborah J. Rumsey, The Ohio State University.

    Take advantage of exciting discussions with colleagues and experts in Atlanta!

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    New Web Resource for Mathematics and Statistics Education

    Eric Hsu
    San Francisco State University

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

    The Better File Cabinet (http://betterfilecabinet. com) is a free searchable database of references to research in math and statistics education (nearly two thousand as of May 2001). The MAA's Special Interest Group collected the references on Research on Undergraduate Math Education (SIGMAA on RUME) and references on Statistics Education were collected by Joan Garfield. Using the web interface, the references are searchable by author, title, full text, and keywords and there is an ongoing effort to add commentary on the papers.

    The site is in a very usable state, but it is still a preliminary beta version. Consolidation and cleaning of the keywords is planned for the near future, as well as a number of other new features. There is also a sister database of calculus problems that will eventually be expanded to other topic areas and integrated into a database containing both research papers and other educational resources.

    Anyone wishing to contribute time, references, ideas, or resources to the project is encouraged to contact Eric Hsu (

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    Mathematics Association Publishes Resource Book for Statistics

    Tom Moore
    Grinnell College

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

    This past fall the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) published a new book in its Notes series called "Teaching Statistics: Resources for Undergraduate Teachers." The book is a collection of classical and original articles on statistics education along with descriptions of several of the innovative and successful projects that have been recently developed along with "companion pieces" on these projects that give pointers on their use from teachers who have used them in the own courses. The goal of the volume is to provide beginning and experienced teachers with practical help on getting more data into their courses, using alternative teaching and assessment methods, and using electronic resources for teaching.

    For more information on the book you can use the web at:

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    Workshop on Teaching with Sports Examples at JSM

    Jim Albert
    Bowling Green University

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

    On Sunday, August 5, I will be offering a workshop on "Teaching Statistics with a Baseball/Sports Emphasis". This workshop describes the content of a recent introductory statistics course I taught at Bowling Green State University from a baseball perspective. One goal of the class is to make statistics fun by teaching the material in the context of baseball. This class is taught to students who are genuinely interested in baseball, but may not be familiar with many of the common baseball statistics that are used to rate hitters and pitchers. The topics of this course include data analysis for one and two variables, elementary probability, and topics in statistical inference. I'll describe special features of the course, including comparison of teams and players, and simulation of games by means of tabletop games. Although the focus of the workshop is on baseball, I will discuss a number of datasets and associated activities for other sports such as basketball, football, and soccer. Resources for teaching sports statistics class are outlined, including data sources on the Internet and courses taught at other universities. See my web site ( for lecture notes from the class I taught last fall.

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    MAA Has Special Interest Group for Statistics Education

    Dex Whittinghill
    Rowan University

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

    This is an open letter to anyone and everyone who has an interest in the wellbeing of statistics education, and announces the Mathematical Association of America's (MAA's) new Special Interest Group on Statistics Education, or 'SIGMAA on Stat Ed.' If you read this newsletter chances are that you are a statistician in a statistics or mathematics department. However, you could be a mathematician in a mathematics department who teaches a lot of statistics, or maybe has been 'born again,' and one of your primary interests is statistics education. You could be a high school teacher involved with the Advanced Placement test for Statistics. Whoever you are, I want to tell you about the SIGMAA on Stat Ed.

    As many of you may know, some ten years ago in August of 1991, the Isolated Statisticians met for the first time at the Atlanta Joint Statistical Meetings (JSMs). The meeting was organized by the Statistics in the Liberal Arts Workshop (SLAW), and moderated by Jeff Witmer of Oberlin College (SLAW member). It was primarily for statisticians who were isolated from other statisticians by nature of their being the only, or one of two, statisticians in a mathematics department. Also in attendance were statisticians from statistics departments who were sympathetic to the difficulties of the isolated statistician's existence. The 'IsoStaters' have continued to meet at the JSMs, usually with 40 attendees discussing issues related to teaching statistics and to being an isolated statistician. Since then there have also been many regional conferences for isolated statisticians. The benefits reaped by the isolated statisticians at their annual and regional meetings were so positive that Tom Moore of Grinnell College (SLAW moderator) and Don van Osdol of the University of New Hampshire had an idea. Why not have a meeting of the mathematicians who teach a lot of statistics, or who are interested in statistics education, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMMs) in January of each year?

    So, in the summer of 1997 that they asked me to organize and moderate such a meeting, and at the JMMs in Baltimore in January of 1998, the first Isolated Teachers of Statistics Meeting (ITSM) was held. Over 40 attendees discussed issues related to being the only, or one of very few, instructors in the department who cares about statistics education. The 'IsoTeaStaters' met again in January of 1999 at San Antonio.

    At about this time the MAA was developing the concept of Special Interest Groups (their counterpart to an ASA Section). There were other interest groups meeting regularly at the JMMs as well. Involved with this task force was Allan Rossman of Dickinson College, Chair of the ASA/MAA Joint Committee on Undergraduate Statistics), and like myself, an IsoStater and IsoTeaStater. Before the January 2000 JMMs the concept of a SIGMAA became official, and Allan drafted a charter for a SIGMAA on Statistics Education. With the help of yours truly and my co-organizer for the January 2000 ITSM, Mary Sullivan of Rhode Island College, we 'slickened' it up and presented it to the IsoTeaStaters at the 2000 ITSM. At that meeting the IsoTeaStaters discussed whether we wanted to become a SIGMAA (and voted 'yes'), made suggestions to improve the draft charter, and in fact voted to dissolve upon acceptance of the charter for the SIGMAA on STAT Ed by the appropriate MAA committees.

    Last June saw the end of the 'IsoTeaStat-ers' and the beginning of the official SIGMAA on Stat Ed. Over the fall, when MAA members were asked to renew, they had the option of joining two SIGMAAs. At the 2001 JMMs this January in New Orleans, at the inaugural SIGMAA on Stat Ed business meeting, I was happy to announce that we had 170 dues paying members! Also at the meeting we discussed outreach to groups such as the NCTM, AMATYC, the AMS, and all teachers of statistics in mathematics departments at the high school or college level. We discussed liaisons with the ASA's Stat Ed section and appropriate committees with the NCTM, AMATYC, CUPM, the IASE, and statistics educators in other disciplines. We bounced around ideas for our newsletter, our web page, and what we wanted for benefits. We even 're-elected' our charter slate of officers for 2001 (hey, we didn't really exist until we got money ... uh ... members). I am the Chair, Mary Sullivan is Chair Elect, Ginger Holmes Rowell of Middle Tennessee State University is Secretary, K.L.D. Gunawardena of U.W.-Oshkosh is Treasurer, and Allan Rossman is Past-Chair for the second year running! We have a Webmaster and three volunteers do edit the newsletter!

    Of course we talked about a lot of 'big plans' at our inaugural meeting, and it will take time to get everything off of the ground. Yet we already have volunteers to liaison with AMATYC at their annual meeting, and with one of its very active regional 'sections.' Another person will try to organize a SIGMAA meeting at MathFest this summer (although he doesn't know it yet!). It also became clear how complicated it will be just assigning the various duties that the officers will have. However, as I look upon the upcoming year with excitement (and some trepidation!), I feel very positive about our future. To quote from our mission, I think that for many years to come the SIGMAA on Stat Ed will 'provide a forum through which those interested in statistics education can meet, interact, exchange ideas, provide support for each other, and foster increased awareness of statistics education.' Hey! If you are not a member of the MAA I invite you to join (remember, a huge percentage of all statistics courses are taught in mathematics departments). And if you are an MAA member, then joint the SIGMAA on Stat Ed today!

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    New Graduate Programs in Statistics Education

    Joan Garfield
    University of Minnesota

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

    Many of us are aware that the number of courses in introductory and intermediate statistics is steadily growing. At the college level, there are now more sections of introductory statistics than sections of calculus. At the High School level, there are over 40,000 students in Advanced Placement Statistics courses, and those numbers are steadily rising. Despite the increase in statistics courses, there is currently no formal preparation for the teaching of statistics. Many statistics teachers at the high school level have bachelors or master's degrees in mathematics or mathematics education, and may not have taken an applied statistics course, worked with data, or used a statistical software package. At the college level, most teachers of statistics lack formal training in becoming a teacher of statistics.

    Over the past two decades much interest has been paid to first courses in statistical science. Calls for reform have made recommendations about how the teaching of these courses should be improved, to increase student learning and attitudes towards statistics, and to develop a statistically literate society. This reform movement has greatly affected the teaching of the introductory statistics course, updating the content, placing more of an emphasis on data analysis using real data and simulation, including material on designing experiments, sampling, and surveys as ways of collecting and producing data, and incorporating the use of technology (both software and web resources) as an integral part of the course.

    There is also a need to attract and prepare more people to the field of statistics, which has led to the ASA's Undergraduate Statistics Education Initiative. One focus of this initiative is the first course in statistics, and a recommendation from the working group on this topic is to develop programs to better prepare teachers of statistics. To help meet this need, a new master's and doctoral program in Statistics Education (as well as a Ph.D. minor) will be offered at the University of Minnesota, beginning in Fall 2002. This program will be housed in the Research Methodology area within the Department of Educational Psychology.

    All students in the new programs will be expected to develop their knowledge of areas related to statistics education as well as methodological competencies. A teaching internship will allow students to apply what they learn to the classroom setting and receive supervision and feedback on their teaching. The research requirement for the master's thesis or doctoral dissertation will prepare the students to conduct high quality educational research applied to the teaching and learning of statistics, and to link the results of research to classroom practice. Among the research competencies students develop are: critically analyzing a body of literature, generating research questions which address specific issues in statistics education, developing empirically-based tests and surveys, designing and executing educational studies, analyzing and interpreting research results (utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data), and succinctly communicating in writing and in oral presentation the results of research studies.

    Two new courses are being developed for students in the new programs. One is a seminar on classic and current research in statistics education, while the other focuses on practical aspects of becoming a teacher of statistics. The supervised teaching internship will allow students to apply their knowledge of research on how students learn statistics and of current resources and recommendations for teaching first and second courses in statistics. For more information, please contact Joan Garfield at She would like to hear from faculty at other institutions who might be contemplating starting their own masters and/or doctoral program in statistics education.

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    AERA Educational Statisticians Meet in Seattle

    Michael A. Seaman
    University of South Carolina

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

    The Educational Statisticians Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) is a group of over 200 researchers interested in statistics as applied to educational, behavioral, and social problems. Members of the SIG include statisticians, academics in departments affiliated with education, psychology, or statistics, measurement experts from testing companies, publishing houses, and research organizations, researchers from a variety of educational organizations, and others interested in the promotion of sound statistical practice in education and other settings.

    This year the Educational Statisticians SIG sponsored nine sessions as part of the annual meeting of AERA, held from April 10 to 14 in Seattle. Four of the sessions featured short paper presentations highlighting current research in the areas of experimental design, multiple-comparison procedures, equivalency testing, effect size analysis, statistical modeling, factor analysis, survey research, and bootstrapping. Two symposiums offered participants a chance for more in-depth learning and discussion of highlighted topics. One of these symposiums focused on issues in handling missing data in statistical analysis and the other highlighted perspectives on teaching applied statistics. Two roundtable discussion sessions on teaching educational statistics and issues in statistical methodology allowed participants a chance for small-group discussions with the authors of papers. A highlight of the meeting was the invited address given by Erich Lehmann. Professor Lehmann spoke on the topic of nonparametric methods in a presentation titled, "The Assumption of Normality: Should We Trust It? Do We Need It?"

    For more information on the Educational Statisticians SIG, visit the SIG website at

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    Ideas Needed for the World Numeracy Project

    Carol Joyce Blumberg
    Department of Mathematics & Statistics
    Winona State University
    Winona, MN 55987-5838

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

    The ISI (International Statistics Institute) established a committee in 1994 to stimulate the spread of quantitative skills around the world in areas and populations (especially in developing countries and among the young) that could benefit from increased knowledge of numbers and their applications, with particular regard to statistics. The committee was chaired by Prof. Luigi Biggeri (Italy). Under his chairmanship some very concrete successes were realized.

    In 2000, it was decided that this Project would now come under the umbrella of the IASE (International Association for Statistical Education), an arm of the ISI. I have agreed, as a major portion of my sabbatical year, to work on the development of a working plan for the World Numeracy Project. If time permits, I will also begin on the implementation of this plan once the IASE officers and the ISI Council approve it.

    My first step in developing the World Numeracy Project is to gather information from as many people as possible as to what directions they want the World Numeracy Project to take. In order to do this, I need anyone reading this article to give me suggestions as to what tasks the World Numeracy Project should undertake. Below does Professor Biggeri chair a list of possible ideas that were given in various reports from the ISI Committee? You may use this list as a starting point for your thoughts. But, what is also very important to me is to have people give me ideas that are NOT on this list.


    1. Promotion of national numeracy programs
    2. Production of a TV series
    3. Survey of International Statistical Training efforts
    4. Survey of National Statistical Training efforts
    5. Register of International Statistical Standards
    6. Hall of fame of great Statisticians
    7. Museum of Numbers
    8. Developing a code and/or booklet on correct data collection procedures
    9. Addressing the needs of teachers, media, and journalists
    10. Addressing the needs of national and local governments
    11. Promoting a World Statistics Day or World Statistics Month
    12. Assisting with the development of national and international training efforts in statistics
    13. Assisting with the development of national and international training efforts in the teaching of statistics and numeracy.

    Please send your ideas and comments to me by mail or email at the addresses given at the beginning of this article. If you wish to contact me by telephone or fax, my telephone number is (507) 457-5589 and fax number is (507) 457-5376.

    Thank you very much for your help.

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    Getting "Beyond the Formula" in Statistics

    Robert Johnson

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

    Do you teach an Introductory Statistics course? Do you teach AP Statistics? Would you be interested in some new ideas for making the course more meaningful to the students?

    "Beyond The Formula" is a two-day conference in August designed specifically for the mathematics teacher teaching introductory statistics whether it is in high school or college, whether a first time or experienced teacher. Several of the speakers are very involved in the AP program.

    Fifth Annual BEYOND THE FORMULA - "Introductory Statistics for A New Century: Integrating New Curriculum Ideas and Modern Techniques into Our Beginning Statistics Course"

    Date: Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001: 8:00 AM to 8:15 PM
    Friday, August 3, 2001: 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM

    Location: Monroe Community College's Damon City Campus, 228 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604. The $135 registration fee includes 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner, breaks, and materials.

    Speakers: Roxy Peck, California Polytechnic State U, Keynote Speaker; Peter Carlson, Delta College; Julie Morrisett Clark, Hollins University; Gloria Dion, Educational Testing Service; Robert W. Hayden, Plymouth State College; Jim Higgins, Kansas State U; John P. Holcomb, Jr., Cleveland State U; Deborah J. Rumsey, Ohio State U; Tom Short, Villanova U; Mike Simpson, Key College Publishing

    Visit our website: to find out about the Beyond The Formula conferences: History, 2001 Program Details, Registration Information and Form, Hotel and Travel Information. If you require further information: EMAIL: or call: 716-292-2931, POST: Beyond The Formula, Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY 14623, CALL: 716-292-2931 or 315-595-2844.


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    JSE in the New Millennium

    Tom Short
    Villanova University

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

    The Journal of Statistics Education (JSE) began the new millennium with a new editor and a new look on the World Wide Web. I was appointed editor in January 2001, succeeding the founding editor, Jackie Dietz, who had served for eight years. Jackie deserves all the credit for making JSE what it is today.

    JSE has grown from publishing via email distribution in 1993 to a fully linked Web version in 2001. We installed a new "look" to the Web site beginning with the May 2001 issue. We tried to make the site even easier to navigate without compromising the appearance and quality of the articles.

    In August 2000 the American Statistical Association (ASA) Board of Directors voted to make JSE free, as it was when Jackie Dietz founded it in 1993. Although subscription fees are no longer required to access JSE articles, we have not lost the ability to automatically maintain an email distribution list of subscribers. If you would like to sign up at no cost to receive electronic notices of new issues of JSE, please send me an email and I will add you to our distribution list.

    Another change in 2001 is the availability of banner and button space for advertisements on the JSE Web site. The ASA has been very supportive of JSE since it became an official ASA journal, but it would be ideal if JSE could become self sufficient through funds raised by advertising. If you are interested in placing an ad on the JSE Web site, please contact me or Claudine Donovan ( at ASA for more information.

    We will publish at least two more issues in 2001. Parts of the July issue are already installed on the JSE Web site. The July issue will include articles by Dex Whittinghill and Bob Hogg on "A Little Uniform Density With Big Instructional Potential," by Robert Bordley on "Teaching Decision Theory in Applied Statistics Courses," by Chris Malone and Chris Bilder on "Statistics Course Web sites: Beyond syllabus.html," and more. The final regular issue of 2001 will appear in November.

    We also plan to publish a special issue in late 2001 or early 2002 that will include articles from sessions at JSM 2001 and the 2000 AERA meeting. These articles will be accompanied by discussions contributed by leading statistics educators.

    Thanks to the JSE Editorial Board, we are handling a steady flow of submissions from all over the world. We can always use more excellent articles, so please consider writing an article relevant to statistics education and sending it along to JSE.

    Please continue to read JSE, to give feedback on what you read, and to consider sharing your own ideas and expertise with JSE by submitting an article.

    Thank you for your readership and for your support of JSE!

    Tom Short, Editor
    Journal of Statistics Education
    Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
    Villanova University
    800 Lancaster Ave.
    Villanova, PA 19085-1699

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    Recent PhD's in Statistics Education

    Joan Garfield
    University of Minnesota

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

    Statistics Education is a relatively new discipline that is growing in interest and activity. People conducting researches in statistics education come from a variety of different areas and often have very different backgrounds, coursework, and training. Over the past year I became interested in learning more about graduate students who have decided to pursue degrees in statistics education. I conducted email interviews with eight current doctoral students and recent PhD's whose dissertation research focused on statistics education. I wanted to learn about their coursework, their training in research methods, and the topic of their dissertation study. I was also interested in finding out the nature of their experience designing and completing a degree that focused on statistics education. These eight individuals shared with me their reflections on the process of earning a doctoral degree in statistics education and offered advice to future graduate students interested in pursuing this path.

    Through word of mouth and personal contact, I obtained the names of these eight individuals who had recently graduated or were in the dissertation process, and all agreed to be interviewed. Each individual has a different story about how they came to be interested in statistics education, how they designed a program that would allow them to develop the expertise needed to do a dissertation in this area, and how they were able to complete the requirements and overcome obstacles along the way.

    The names of the people interviewed, where they did their graduate work, and their dissertation topics, are listed below:

    Most of the people interviewed came to statistics education because of their experience teaching statistics. Many expressed their enjoyment teaching statistics, but also expressed a concern over difficulties students have learning statistics, solving statistical problems, and using statistical thinking, which led them to study and pursue research in this area. Only one person chose this area because of her advisor's research interests. Two people indicated that they specifically planned to teach statistics at the college level and thought that this degree would best prepare them.

    These eight individuals entered graduate programs in statistics, mathematics education, or educational psychology programs. Based on their experiences, it appears to be somewhat easier to design a statistics education focus within a mathematics education department than in other departments. Many students outside of mathematics education either had to combine programs (e.g., statistics and education) and have co-advisors, or switch advisors to find one that approved of a dissertation in statistics education.

    One interesting distinction between students in the three different areas has to do with the type of job preparation they receive. Most mathematics education programs are focused on teacher education (i.e., teaching those who will prepare math teachers) while the combined programs of statistics and education are focused on training individuals to be teachers of statistics themselves, typically at the college level. Students in Educational Psychology are prepared to teach quantitative methods (to graduate students in Education) and to conduct research in the area of educational statistics.

    The coursework taken by these people varied according to the type of department they were in. For example, students in Educational Psychology programs took mostly courses in that department (e.g., statistics, measurement, and learning) and were less likely to take courses in mathematics education. Students in mathematics education programs appeared to have more varied programs with courses in educational psychology and statistics in addition to mathematics education. Several people found their coursework in psychology or learning and cognition to be the most helpful in preparing them to do research in statistics education, while others noted their coursework in statistical methods was particularly valuable. Most of the students across programs valued preparation in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

    Getting a dissertation topic approved was often a hurdle, and a few students experienced reluctance from their advisor to agree to a focus on a statistics education topic, feeling that this would limit their job possibilities. In the cases where students had co-advisors, getting approvals from two advisors and two departments was often challenging and took extra time. Most of the people interviewed were the first person to design a statistics education program and dissertation. One person commented: "My biggest obstacle was that since no one had done this before I was on my own for a lot of it in deciding what courses I should take and what an appropriate dissertation looked like."

    Being connected to the wider statistics education community via meetings and newsgroups has been very helpful to many of the people interviewed. One person commented "I would especially like to acknowledge how wonderful the statistics education community has been about welcoming me into the fold. I have met some terrific people and made some great connections and look forward to continued work with these people."

    Others wish there could be more recognition of and validation for statistics education as a legitimate area for study and research. "As more students pursue degrees in statistics education it is important to identify faculty members as advisors who have comfort and expertise in both fields, education and statistics." "While looking for a job, I was asked a few times what exactly a statistics education degree was. I had the most success in answering this question by saying that it was like a mathematics education degree."

    Those who have finished degrees are teaching in a variety of settings, and appear quite satisfied with their decision to focus on statistics education. One person remarked, "I am very happy I chose the field I did. My teaching and my research feed off each other, which is very meaningful to me... I'm excited by the 'newness' of the field. There are so many directions in which we can go and I am happy to be near the beginning of that exploration."

    Since conducting these interviews I have learned of at least two other graduate students, both in departments of mathematics education, who are working on dissertations focused on statistics education. These studies examine middle school or high school teachers' knowledge and understanding of statistics, an emerging area of interest to statistics education researchers. With more formal programs in statistics education beginning to be developed (see the article on the new program at the University of Minnesota in this newsletter) the statistics education community should begin to provide a more consistent and complete training to prepare and support future teachers and researchers in this emerging discipline.

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    Statistics Education at the ASA

    Richard Scheaffer
    ASA President

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

    The increased emphasis on statistics in the K-12 curriculum, the strong interest in the high school Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics courses, and the increased need for statistics in a wide range of occupations, prompted the American Statistical Association to promote the enhancement of undergraduate education in statistics. The Symposium on undergraduate statistics education held at JSM 2000 was the focal point for the development of the 'Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Programs in Statistical Science', which were approved by the Board of Directors in December. [These can be seen on Amstat Online.] These Guidelines set the stage for exciting advances in undergraduate statistics education that can be built around the key points of flexibility, innovation, and experimentation in the content and structure of courses.

    The undergraduate initiative is just one of many being planned for the ASA's Center for Statistics Education (CSE). This Center should be positioned to play a leading role in the unfolding emphasis on statistics throughout the K-12 mathematics and science curriculum, as well as in the undergraduate curricula of colleges and universities. To accomplish this, the CSE is attempting to establish clear goals and guidelines for promoting statistics education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and at various levels of undergraduate activity, including the preparation of future teachers of mathematics and science. At all these levels, improving the skills of teachers is the overarching goal, although the undergraduate initiative goes beyond that. Objectives toward these goals should include intensive workshops for teachers at all levels, sessions at professional meetings of statistics and allied societies, special conferences on aspects of statistics education, innovative use of the web, and serious networking among educational and scientific groups.

    Organizationally, the group responsible for the oversight of most K-16 educational programs funded through ASA is the Advisory Committee on Teacher Enhancement (ACTE), chaired by Robert Stephenson. This Committee includes representatives from the Section on Statistical Education and the joint committees that relate to NCTM and MAA. That it is a very active Committee is shown by the fact that it received ASA strategic initiative funds for four projects on which it is now embarking. These are outlined below.

    1. Planning for a Conference on Statistics in Teacher Preparation Programs. In an attempt to impact the preparation of future teachers of mathematics and science, this project will bring together statisticians and those involved in pre-service teacher preparation to plan a conference on how to better prepare future teachers to present the ideas and methods of statistics.

    2. Planning for Web Infrastructure to Support ASA Educational Programs. The Quantitative Literacy (QL), Science Education and Quantitative Literacy (SEAQL), and Data Driven Mathematics materials provide a rich resource for K-12 teachers of mathematics and science. Planning for use of the web to better promote and disseminate these and other materials, and related information on statistics education, is the purpose of this project.

    3. Planning a Funding Request for New AP Statistics Teacher Training. The explosive growth in the number of students taking the Advanced Placement Statistics Exam means that more and more high school teachers with little or no background in statistics are being called on to provide statistics instruction. This initiative will support the writing of an NSF proposal to develop a course (both through workshops and web-based materials) on statistical content for first time teachers of AP Statistics. Such a course can build on the success of the current Beyond AP Statistics workshops.

    4. Planning for an Institute for Undergraduate Statistics Education. Following up on the efforts to advance undergraduate statistics education, as mentioned above, this project will lay the groundwork for creating an Institute for Undergraduate Statistics Education. Such an Institute will be a consortium of colleges (including two-year colleges) and universities working together under ASA guidance to provide innovative enhancements and structures to undergraduate statistics education. The institute will eventually prepare and disseminate materials for statistics educators and researchers. The Institute will serve as a resource and clearinghouse for best practices. It will facilitate the exchange of information among the various groups of faculty members (e.g. statisticians, mathematicians, two-year college faculty, social scientists) who teach undergraduate statistics.

    Much of the descriptive material above comes directly from the proposals written by the ACTE, as does the following, which summarizes the philosophy of ASA as we embark on exciting new efforts to enhance statistical thinking and practice in the world.

    "One can argue that the best ambassador for the statistics profession is a well-trained and enthusiastic teacher of statistics. ... If we are to enhance the prestige and influence of the statistics profession and assure that statistics is taught correctly and with an appreciation for its utility, we must provide opportunities for the enhancement of teachers at all levels."

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    The Star Library is Ready for Launch!

    Deborah J. Rumsey
    Ohio State University Math Stat Learning Center
    Christopher Bilder
    Oklahoma State University Dept. of Statistics

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

    The STAR Library is a new peer-reviewed Statistics Teaching And Resource Library on the WWW (web address: It was created to support and encourage statistics teachers in their efforts to include hands-on activities in their courses, and encourage those who have not yet tried using activities, to do so. The focus at this point is the introductory course(s) in undergraduate statistics, although in time, we may expand our focus. All activities on the STAR Library are freely available for use by anyone. They are categorized according to topics on a typical introductory statistics syllabus, and can be sorted by amount of time needed, whether the activity is in/out of class, and whether it requires a computer. Activities can be downloaded and edited for easy customization, and can be accompanied by a variety of technological supplements (e.g. digital photos, video demonstrations, spreadsheets and datasets).

    Why was the STAR Library created? While most of us agree that incorporating activities in the classroom is important, there are many reasons why statistics teachers don't use them as often as they would like to. Some of the obstacles are logistic-how do we find high quality teaching activities? While each of us has a few really great ideas, there is little opportunity to share and exchange our ideas with others, resulting in an easily exhausted repertoire. Many commercial products are available such as workbooks and CD-Rom, but not everyone has the financial means to purchase these products. Even if we do, it is often hard to adapt the activities in these commercial products to our own situations, classes and teaching styles.

    The STAR Library addresses these issues. Its mission is to promote and encourage active learning in statistics classrooms in a way that makes it easy for teachers to participate. The four main objectives of the STAR Library are to provide a collection of teaching activities for statistics that is 1) of high quality; 2) easy to access; 3) free of charge; and 4) easy to customize.

    STAR takes advantage of the accessibility of the WWW, but also its wide range of available technologies. This allows authors to demonstrate their activity without the constraints of a regular print journal. Teachers not only read the activity, and about the activity, but can then can see digital photos, or video demonstrations of the activity actually being carried out in a classroom. With regards to video, the STAR Library has a Real server, which can stream Real video files. (The editors will work with authors who create videos in other formats.)

    STAR Library also offers teachers a wide range of materials and information beyond a description of the activities themselves. For example, each activity has a "prototype". This prototype is a "ready to print" handout that can be given directly to students. If an educator prefers to edit the prototype before handing it out, a Word version of it can be downloaded. Any data, spreadsheets, JAVA applets, or computer programs provided by the activity's author are easily assessable and can be downloaded by the user. Attached to each activity is a message board that allows educators to discuss an activity. Topics for discussion can include comments on how the activity went in class, ideas for changes or additions to the activity, or suggestions from authors regarding how to use the activity. It is our hope that these features will increase teachers' confidence and comfort level with the activities and incorporate them into their classrooms more often.

    STAR Library has an editorial board; each activity is refereed by at least two people for quality, purpose, clarity, and attention to the format. The peer-reviewed nature of STAR serves two purposes; first, it ensures the quality of the activities, but equally important, it provides a publication outlet for teachers that recognizes teaching scholarship. And because STAR focuses solely on activities rather than research, a high quality activity can be as short as 1-3 pages long. A quick turnaround in the electronic environment within which STAR operates is also helpful for authors. The STAR Library will not have "issues" like most journals. Instead, the STAR Library will publish activities as soon as they are accepted in order to provide a quick dissemination to educators.

    Many statistics teachers (and perhaps many students) have come to think activities are fun to do, but that they don't really help move the class forward in terms of learning the concepts to be covered in class (in other words, they tend to take up too much time). A high quality activity should integrate the statistical concept in a way that makes class time productive; it should work with the teacher to help students learn, not work against them, competing for time. This really brings into play the importance of learning objectives and assessment regarding activities. The STAR Library pays great attention to quality and completeness of activities, both from a student and a teacher perspective. In addition to a "prototype" or student version of each activity, there is a teacher version of the activity, written as a brief paper, that maintains a certain structural format. Each teacher version includes an abstract, a clear objective, list of materials/time needed, a description of the activity, a paragraph on assessment, and teacher notes on what to expect when carrying out the activity in your classroom.

    Another important feature of the STAR Library is what's New? The What's New? webpage lists the activities recently published in STAR Library. Educators can also sign up for monthly emails, which describe what's new so that they do not need to check the web page on their own. Other important features of STAR Library include the Tour, which gives a short tour of the website and help on how to use it. The Chat Room web page provides a forum for future scheduled chat sessions between educators, editors, and authors to discuss statistics education. All of these web pages are easily assessable from the STAR Library navigation bar.

    The grand opening issue of the STAR Library is currently being posted on the STAR Library website. Some of the activities you will find there include: "Counting Eights: A First Activity in the Study and Interpretation of Probability"; "Does Practice Really Make Perfect?" which applies a matched pairs experiment to Frisbee and golf distances; "Random Rendezvous" which examines probability issues revolving around meeting a friend for a lunch appointment; "Simulating Size and Power using a 10-sided Die" which illustrates size and power issues through simulation; "Breaking the Code - A Graphical Exploration Using Bar Charts" which engages students in an encoding activity, and an experiment to compare the absorbency of two brands of paper towels ("Which Paper Towel is More Absorbent?").

    This grand opening issue of STAR Library is just the beginning. To make it successful, we need more activities! We hope you will consider submitting one of your favorite activities for possible publication in the STAR Library for all of us to share. To view the author guidelines, simply go to the STAR Library website ( and click on "Submit." Videos, digital photos and other supplements are encouraged but not required for publication. Authors retain copyright of their published articles; we only ask that you submit an original activity, and that you not submit an activity that has already received a copyright somewhere else without permission of the publisher.

    The STAR Library has been made possible through grants and support from Duxbury Press, Oklahoma State University, and Kansas State University. The Editor of STAR Library is Deb Rumsey (, and the Chief Associate Editor and Webmaster is Christopher Bilder ( If you would like further information about STAR Library, please feel free to contact either of us.

    Contact Information:
    Deborah J. Rumsey, Director
    Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center
    The Ohio State University
    231 W. 18th Ave.
    Columbus, OH 43210
    Phone: (614) 292-2506

    Christopher R. Bilder
    Department of Statistics
    Oklahoma State University
    301G Math Sciences Bldg.
    Stillwater, OK 74078
    Phone: (405) 744-5684

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