Thursday, May 24, 2012


Laura Le, Rebekah Isaak, and Laura Ziegler–Iron Chefs of Randomization

Rebekah Isaak, Laura Le, and Laura Ziegler conducted a virtual, interactive workshop on May 17, 2012 as part of the first Electronic Conference on Teaching Statistics (eCOTS) ( Registration for the workshop filled in record time and over 30 participants from across the country and around the world attended. A recording of the workshop will be available on the CAUSEweb site ( in the near future.

The workshop, entitled A Flavor of the CATALST Course: Using Randomization-Based Methods in an Introductory Statistics Course, gave participants an overview of the CATALST course ( and introduced them to various components of this course. The topics covered range from a radically different first day activity, the iPod Shuffle Model Eliciting Activity, to the types of assessments used in the course. Participants were left unmuted for the duration of the workshop in order to foster the interactive nature of the course. This resulted in lively discussion and many of the participants spoke up with insightful comments and good questions.

In addition to the information Rebekah, Laura, and Laura shared based on their experiences teaching the CATALST course, Joe Nowakowski and Sheila Weaver shared their reflections on teaching the course for the first time this spring. They talked about their concerns going into teaching the course, what it was like to teach it for the first time, what they liked about it, challenges they encountered, and recommendations for anyone interested in teaching it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

eCOTS 2012

Michelle Everson served as the chair of the programming committee for the first Electronic Conference on Teaching Statistics (eCOTS).  This conference took place May 14-18, 2012, and all recorded sessions and materials from the conference will eventually be housed for public view on the CAUSEweb site (  A total of 420 individuals registered for eCOTS, and registrants were able to take part in live break-out sessions early in the week on topics related to teaching the “modern student”, debating the “big ideas,” and technology resources for use in the statistics classroom.  Over 20 virtual posters (i.e., short five minute video presentations) were also on display for participants to review, and a discussion board was set up for each poster so conference attendees could leave questions and comments for the poster author(s).

On May 17th, Rebekah Isaak, Laura Le, and Laura Ziegler led a workshop about the CATALST curriculum for 30 educators, and a recording for this workshop will also soon be available on CAUSEweb.  The conference drew to a close with keynote presentations by Hans Rosling (who presented on using a fact-based world view to engage students) and Webster West (who discussed the impact of technology on the teaching of statistics).

eCOTS was definitely an energizing experience for all involved, and we are already looking ahead to eCOTS 2014!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Catalysts for Change Publish in JSE

Andrew Zieffler, Jiyoon Park, Joan Garfield, Robert delMas, and Audbjorg Bjornsdottir recently published an article on their work with the Statistics Teaching Inventory in the Journal of Statistics Education.

This paper reports on an instrument designed to assess the practices and beliefs of instructors of introductory statistics courses across the disciplines. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, this project developed, piloted, and gathered validity evidence for the Statistics Teaching Inventory (STI). The instrument consists of 50 items in six parts and is administered online. The development of the instrument and the gathering and analysis of validity evidence are described. Plans and suggestions for use of the STI are offered.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Allan Rossman Gives Grand Finale Talk in Becoming a Teacher of Statistics Course

Allan Rossman: His favorite polysyllabic word is 'polysyllabic'.

Inspired by the Xiao-Li's graduate course on teaching statistics at Harvard, Joan Garfield and Michelle Everson decided to add a Grand Finale speaker to their course: Becoming a Teacher of Statistics. The Grand Finale speaker this spring was Allan Rossman, who addressed the class (and a few guests) on Monday May 7.

His advice regarding good teaching: Ask good questions!

The students in this class enjoyed a variety of guest speakers during the semester. Bob delMas, Danny Kaplan, Julie Legler, and Audbjorg Bjornsdottir all made guest appearances in the course. Other speakers were 'brought' to the course and via Skype, including Michael Bulmer, Nick Horton, Chris Franklin, Cary Roseth, Robin Lock, Kari Lock Morgan, George Cobb, and Rob Gould.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Laura Le Wins Teaching Award

Laura Le was the winner of the 2011-2012 graduate student teaching award in the Quantitative Methods in Education program. Congratulations Laura!

Laura just finished up her third year of coursework in the doctoral program and has a busy summer ahead of her writing her pre-dissertation paper and working with Laura Ziegler to overhaul our Master's-level statistics courses.

Laura contemplates the next iteration of CATALST.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Graduating Catalysts for Change

Two Catalysts for Change, Audbjorg Bjornsdottir and Jiyoon Park, participated in the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development commencement this previous Thursday (May 10, 2012). Auja successfully defended her thesis earlier that same day (congratulations Dr. Auja!), and Jiyoon will be defending her thesis later this summer. Four of the faculty from Statistics Education attended the commencement, and all four participated in the hooding of the two students.

Jiyoon Park, Anica Bowe, and Audbjorg Bjornsdottir at the 2012 CEHD commencement. 

Michelle Everson, Andrew Zieffler, Robert delMas, and Joan Garfield at the 2012 CEHD commencement.