Friday, April 17, 2015

Congratulations! 2014-15 QME Teaching Award Winner: Elizabeth Fry

The QME Teaching Award is given each year to recognize a graduate student in the Quantitative Methods in Education program for excellence in teaching. This award will be presented at the department annual spring pizza party on May 8.

Stat ed student Elizabeth Fry won this year's award, much to the delight of her stat ed peers and faculty members.

In Liz's own words:
Liz at ICOTS-9 this past summer in Arizona

"I have been teaching in QME for almost 3 years, after having taught for two years in Ohio. My first year teaching in Minnesota, I taught EPSY 3264, otherwise known as the CATALST course. This is an innovative introductory statistics course for undergraduates that teaches the ideas of statistical inference through simulation-based methods. 

For the past two years, I have been teaching EPSY 5261, an introductory statistics course for graduate students in various different programs. In this course, I use the Lock et al. (2013) textbook, teaching inference first through bootstrap intervals and randomization tests, and then moving on to learn parametric methods. 

This past year, I took on a new challenge: Teaching online for the first time! I enjoy taking a subject that many students initially find intimidating, and showing them how interesting and engaging it truly is through the use of many collaborative activities and group discussion.
It is an honor to receive this award for something I love doing so much! I have grown tremendously as a teacher during my time in QME, and that is largely thanks to being in a supportive environment with mentors and colleagues who are also passionate about teaching. "

Congratulations, Liz, on this wonderful, well-deserved award for all of your great efforts, expertise, and teaching passion!

March Workshop: "Teaching Statistical Investigation Process with Simulation and Randomization-Based Inference"

Amid the busy semester, a couple of stat ed students escaped Minnesota's chilly spring to bask in the sunny dryness of Arizona!

Nicola and Anelise joined Cal-Poly colleagues Allan Rossman, Beth Chance, and Soma Roy in presenting at a workshop called "Teaching the Statistical Investigation Process with Simulation and Randomization-Based Inference" at Mesa Community College in Arizona on March 6 - 7 The workshop included a brief taste of to two curricula: Introduction to Statistical Investigations (ISI; Tintle et al., ); and CATALST.  

This was part of a series of free workshops by the ISI team designed to help teachers of statistics gain familiarity with randomization-based methods and the process of statistical inference.

In the brief weekend trip, Anelise and Nicola also managed to explore Arizona State University, enjoy some ice cream on a warm evening, and take a few snapshots.

A happy balloon cactus greeted them in the airport!

Monday, March 9, 2015

New (Old) Stat Ed - QME Student: Meet Mike!

Hi everyone!

Mike Huberty with his family.
My name is Mike Huberty.  Like Jonathan, I am in my first year of the Statistics Education (QME) program at the University of Minnesota.  My path to this program has also been an adventure, though my path has been different than Jonathan's. 

I earned by bachelors degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Minnesota in 1991 and got my Masters degree in teaching math and physics from the University of St. Thomas in 1993.   I have taught mathematics, statistics, and science to mostly high school students since then – Totino-Grace H.S. in Fridley, MN (1993-1998); Mounds View H.S. in Arden Hills, MN (1998-present); and St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN (2005-2006).

In 2002, I was the math and science curriculum director for Mounds View Public Schools when I received a brochure for a new course titled "Becoming a Teacher of Statistics."  As we were planning to implement A.P. Statistics that fall, I enrolled in that course with two colleagues from our school district.  Joan Garfield taught that course and started a connection that continues to this day.

"Stat Chat" Stat-O-Lantern, 2014
Since that time, I kept in contact with Dr. Garfield – from inviting her to observe our high school statistic students' project presentations to attending monthly "Stat Chat" gatherings of college professors interesting in improving introductory statistics.  In the fall of 2011, I piloted the CATALST curriculum with high school students, and was impressed by what the students could conceptually understand without the more formal A.P. Statistics training.  When I attended the 10th anniversary celebration of the Stat Ed program in the fall of 2012, I decided then that I needed to do what Dr. Garfield has asked me to do for the past ten years – join her PhD program!

This has been an exciting, and exhausting, year.  I am now a full-time student in the Statistics Education program at the University of Minnesota.  I am also still teaching part-time at Mounds View H.S.  I love teaching!  It is a passion!  And I can't fully give up my science background as I am still involved with the Science Olympiad program – organizing science competitions for students in grades 2 through 12 and teaching Lego robotics in the summer to kids ages 9-11.

Nothing in life is better than helping the next generation learn!  In fact, it is a privilege.

:-)  Mike

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Stat Ed - QME Student: Meet Jonathan!

I wish this was my dog. Alas, it is not. I'm a cat guy anyway.

I’m Jonathan Brown and I’m in my first year of the Stat Ed – QME program.  My path into this program has been quite an adventure, and I’m very happy to be here!

Growing up and heading into undergrad, I had aspirations to figure out the Universe at the most fundamental level, as well as protect the Earth from potentially apocalyptic asteroids.  Accordingly, I earned a Bachelor of Science from UW-Madison in 2009, majoring in Astronomy-Physics, with a Business minor.  I conducted astronomy research from 2007-2009, analyzing quasar spectra in an attempt to characterize hydrogen gas clouds through their interference with said spectra.  I was fortunate to spend a year teaching physics through the Physics Department's Peer-Mentor-Tutor program, providing educational support to first-generation students and students from underrepresented groups enrolled in introductory physics courses.

While the joy of cosmology and physics never left me, issues on the social side of science sparked my interest, and I sought to dive into other aspects of science, other than the science itself.  This included teaching, policy, and ethical issues.  This lead to me earning a Master of Science in Science and Technology Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in 2012, with a Public Health minor.  I focused my attention on nanotechnology policy, and conducted research on the public perception of nanotechnology in food.  I was additionally a statistics teaching assistant for two half-semester classes and loved it. 

Following my Master’s degree, I stayed at the Humphrey School for two years as a research fellow, working on issues of nanotechnology in food, women’s experiences in science and technology policy careers, and the impact of university research on domestic food safety.

As I pondered my next steps, I realized that I missed teaching and had unexplored passions for improving education, specifically, quantitative education.  I began fondly thinking back to my times teaching physics in undergrad and statistics in my Master’s program.  Following recommendations from peers, I discovered the Stat Ed group within the QME program and it struck me like an inspirational lightning bolt that this was where I next wanted to be.  I strongly desired to not only teach quantitative material, but to make such teaching better and positively impact students as much as possible.

My primary research interest within statistics education is teaching assistant and instructor development, but I am happy researching numerous areas, issues, and topics.  Being given the opportunity to teach statistics while conducting and potentially implementing research to improve statistics education is awesome!

Outside of school and work, my life is filled with two other activities: fitness and improv.  Among the joys and sanity I derive from fitness and sports, sprinting is my favorite pastime.  I hope to indefinitely compete in friendly track meets in the 200 meter, 400 meter, and possibly the mile.  I've been training in and doing improv for over a year, and have enjoyed successes and experiences that I never could have imagined.  I’m currently a part of one improv group and am hoping to stay indefinitely connected to the stage.  Additionally, as a wonderful externality, my teaching has definitely strengthened due to my improv training and experience.  Many improv principles directly apply to teaching of any kind!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings

Joan Garfield and Elizabeth Fry: poster-session superstars.  They shared their poster about assessments developed under the NSF e-ATLAS grant.

Two Catalysts for Change, Joan Garfield and Elizabeth Fry, kicked off the New Year with a trip to San Antonio, Texas for the Joint Math Meetings.  They arrived before the meetings began, in order to attend a workshop led by Allan Rossman, Robin Lock, and colleagues to learn about their approaches to teaching simulation and randomization-based methods in introductory statistics courses.

Elizabeth Fry presenting her paper and work on the Statistics Teaching Inventory developed under the NSF e-ATLAS grant, and solidifying her case as the next TedTalk rising star.

The fun did not stop there.  On January 10, Liz presented a contributed paper, What do we know about best practices in teaching the introductory course?  This presentation showcased the work that has been done on the Statistics Teaching Inventory, a national survey of statistics instructors, developed under the NSF e-ATLAS grant.  The following day, Joan and Liz participated in a special poster session for NSF-funded projects, where they shared more about the assessments developed under the e-ATLAS project.

In addition to bringing statistics education research and expertise, Elizabeth Fry and Joan Garfield brought a little midwestern winter to San Antonio.  Temperatures were a tad chillier than expected for local residents. Beautiful elements along the San Antonio River Walk, providing the rare sight for Minnesotans of an unfrozen body of water in winter.

Despite record cold temperatures for San Antonio (which felt balmy compared to temperatures in Minnesota), Liz and Joan spent plenty of time outside walking around, exploring the Riverwalk, and taking advantage of some of the finest dining that the city has to offer.  They particularly enjoyed excellent food and company one evening at Citrus restaurant together with John Holcomb and Nick Horton.

Joan Garfield, Elizabeth Fry, John Holcomb, and Nick Horton taking time to replenish at Citrus restaurant.  It is ill-advised to talk about statistics without sufficient food and beverage.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reflections from the ICOTS Conference: Two Worlds

Ane's Reflections:

After finishing my Master’s degree at the University of Minnesota, I went back to Brazil and since then I have been between two “worlds”: the world of U.S., with all I learned about statistics education, and the world of Brazil, where statistics education is still growing. It has been a challenge to unite both worlds; however, at ICOTS these two worlds got together very smoothly. I had the chance to meet some professors from all parts of Brazil who were interested in statistics education. Through their work I could see some of what is being done is Brazil. I had the chance to see Claudia Borim present about developing school mathematics teachers’ reasoning about variation. I also saw other presentations about critical statistics education from Celso Campos and students’ experiences with an online exercise from Andre Samartini.
Assessment development is an area of great interest of mine, so I was excited to see all the work that has been done in developing new assessments in the US. I very much enjoyed the sessions about the LOCUS assessment presented by Tim Jacobbe and Douglas Whitaker (University of Florida). I also had a great time hearing from my colleagues at the University of Minnesota: Robert delMas presented on the CAOS instrument and Laura Ziegler presented on the BLIS assessment.
However, ICOTS and statistics education goes beyond the US and Brazil. I had a chance to meet some renowned researchers such as Carmen Batanero from Spain. In addition, I was very interested in a presentation from Caterina Primi (Italy) about using Item Response Theory to construct a scale to measure basic probabilistic reasoning skills.
All the fun I had at ICOTS and everything I learned would not have been possible without the funding I got. So thank you Joan Garfield and the IASE for the financial help. :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Reflections from the ICOTS Conference: My First ICOTS Experience

Reflections from Liz

On the Wednesday of ICOTS, Ethan and I got to visit the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. While hiking near the volcano, I was amazed at the beautiful scenery all around, and the gorgeous views I got from every angle! At one point during the hike, Ethan picked up a rock and pointed out how interesting it looked up close (see the top left frame of my photo). When I shifted my perspective from looking far away to looking at things up close, I noticed the small details and intricacies of the scenery around me, such as the tree trunk that also appears in my photo. Although the “big picture” of the scenery was gorgeous to look at, I was slower to notice the additional beauty to be seen in the details up close!

Going into the conference, I think my perspective went the other way around: I was focused on the details, asking questions like: What details of the work I did for my 90-page pre-dissertation do I share for my 15-minute contributed talk? What individual presentations am I interested in attending? The first couple of days, I got caught up in the details of how I could “session-hop” from talk to talk in order to catch as many of the presentations as possible that I wanted to see. I ended up missing portions of the presentations I planned on seeing. So later on, I tried the “big picture” approach, asking: What session themes are most interesting to me? What major topics do I want to learn about?

Going to entire sessions helped me to see the bigger ideas and themes that connect the work of researchers and scholars around the world. One presentation I enjoyed was given by Douglas Whitaker from the Florida LOCUS group. In his talk, he had a slide of various assessments that have been developed in statistics education, including the GOALS assessment that our e-ATLAS team has been working on. The slide gave me a way to visualize how this assessment fits into a larger framework, and reminded me that there are various other people at different places who share the interest of developing good assessments.

I enjoyed not only meeting new people, but reconnecting with colleagues I already knew, including the SRTL friends I had met one year earlier! It was exciting to hear from many colleagues I already knew about how their research has continued to progress, not only during their presentations but also in informal conversations over meals and snacks. One invited session I enjoyed involved research by Susanne Podworny, Janet Ainley, Keren Aridor-Berger and colleagues on technology-enhanced learning environments. At this session, it was very interesting to learn more about the big picture of students’ learning trajectories while they used technology to reason about uncertainty, as well as the details of their reasoning as shown in several excepts of students’ dialogue.

ICOTS reminded me of the importance of collaboration, communication, and being aware of what statistics education colleagues around the world are doing. While the details of our own work are important, it is also essential to step back and look at how our work fits into a larger context. We are not alone—there are many, many others who share the goal of improving the grand landscape of statistics education!