Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Joint Mathematics Meetings

Nicola Parker and Andy Zieffler went to Baltimore, MD to participate in the Joint Mathematics Meetings on January 15–18, 2014. 

Besides attending the Joint Meetings, they also gave a 4-hour minicourse on the CATALST course. The minicourse included 14 enthusiastic participants from colleges and universities across the country (and even a high school teacher!). Even though the second-half of the minicourse took place on Saturday afternoon—the last day of the conference—all of the participants came back, and we even gained a participant. We think it was quite a success and have been invited to return and repeat it again next year at the 2015 Joint Meetings in San Antonio!

Nicola mesmorizes the minicourse participants with TinkerPlots.
The meetings were well attended and included a Contributed Paper Session sponsored by the Statistics Education SIGMAAA—Data, Modeling, and Computing in the Introductory Statistics Course. Catherine Case and Melanie Battle gave a nice talk, Toward a Conceptual Understanding of P-values: The Advantages and Challenges of Randomization-Based Inference, which referenced some of the research that has come out of the CATALST project. In addition, Nick Horton's talk, Big Data in the Intro Stats Class: Use of the Airline Delays Dataset to Expose Students to a Real-World, Complex Dataset, also gave a plug for CATALST, making use of the Comparing Airlines MEA that is the initial activity in Unit 2 of the CATALST book.

Catherine Case and Melanie Battle, graduate students at the University of Florida, gave a nice talk on students' understanding of p-value when implementing randomization methods in introductory statistics courses and referenced CATALST.

HHMI Curricular Collaborations Meeting

On January 13–15, 2014, Laura Le, Laura Ziegler, and Andy Zieffler participated in the HHMI Curricular Collaborations meeting that took place at the Howard Hughes Medical Initiative center in Chevy Chase, MD. The meeting included HHMI grant awardees whose grant focus was on curricular innovation through multi-institution collaboration.

Laura and Laura "re-sample" poses from the Harmon Trophy which was awarded to Howard Hughes in 1936 and 1938 as the world's most outstanding aviator.

Our work is building and evaluating an assessment of quantitative skills and reasoning for biology students. This work started in June, 2013 when science educator/researchers from several liberal arts colleges—the grant includes Bryn Maar, Claremont McKenna, Emory, Harvey Mudd, Lewis & Clark, Macalester, Morehouse, Oberlin, and St. Olaf—gathered to brainstorm in Portland, OR. The conversations in Portland led to an initial version of an instrument that was piloted at many of these schools.

This meeting we spent several more hours refining both our vision/goal for the instrument. Pilot results were used to also help further flesh out the instrument. Next steps include making revisions and a second piloting.

We had several speakers and learned about many different projects throughout the meetings, including learning about the new MCAT, which will be administered starting in 2016.