Saturday, October 31, 2015

StatChat: Halloween Edition, Featuring Anelise Sabbag

Another fun, informative, and successful StatChat came and went this past October 27th.  Still hosted at Macalester College, there was a full plate on the agenda and full plates with great treats shared among attendees.

After the always mandatory food, drinks, and socializing, Monica Brown and Joe Roith from St. Kate's presented on St. Kate's new Interdisciplinary Statistics minor.  Milo Schield from Augsburg College spoke on problems with introductory statistics courses, as well as initiated discussion about revising the current GAISE recommendations.

A highlight of the night was a presentation by our own Anelise Sabbag: "A focus on statistical reasoning.  What did we learn from the GOALS instrument?"  Anelise explored what we are learning about students' statistical reasoning based on field test results from GOALS in Fall 2014.  Key points included the most challenging types of questions for students and the learning goals with which they are most struggling.

Anelise fearlessly taking over the room with her intellect, energy, and wit!

Of course it wouldn't be a Halloween StatChat without the famed Stat-O-Lantern!  Thanks to Mike Huberty for the spooky, statistical display.

The Stat-O-Lantern was the toughest audience member, skeptically judging each presentation and asking the hard questions

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Congratulations, Dr. Beckman!

Our Stat Ed family is proud to announce that Matt Beckman (now Dr.) successfully defended his dissertation, "Assessment of Cognitive Transfer Outcomes for Students of Introductory Statistics", on Monday, October 12th!

We are all so proud of and happy for Matt.  His story with the Stat Ed family began back in 2009.  In his own words:

"I moved to MN in fall 2006 and completed my M.S. in the University of Minnesota Statistics Department. I took Michelle Everson's "Becoming a Teacher of Statistics" class in Spring 2008 as an elective in my last semester.  She & Joan hired me as adjunct faculty to teach EPSY 5261 for Fall 2008 and Spring 2009, and then told me about the Stat Dd PhD program.  So, I enrolled in Fall 2009."

All smiles!  Dr. Beckman and his committee, under the glow of success.

We wish Dr. Beckman all of the best as he and his family transition out to the east coast!  Matt will soon be starting in his new position in the Penn State University Statistics Department, as the Director of Undergraduate Programs.

Congratulations again, Dr. Beckman!  You will be missed, but naturally, your fruitful journey continues.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer So Far Part 2: USCOTS 2015

Late May of this year kicked off summer adventures for more of our stat ed family!  Bob delMas and Nicola attended USCOTS 2015 in State College, PA.  A successful platter of data gathering, presentations, socializing, and good summer antics was nicely served.

All smiles!  Bob, Nicola, and colleague Catherine Case from the University of Florida.
Conference-wise, Nicola conducted focus groups to collect data for her thesis.  She met and had excellent conversations with a variety of graduate teaching assistants, who kindly shared their experiences.

Bob was active with several presentations and papers.  He delivered a three-hour session titled, "Bringing the Statistics Education Research Literature into your Classroom", to community college statistics instructors as part of a USCOTS pre-conference training workshop.  The session involved participants reading from and discussing chapters from Garfield & Ben-Zvi's 2008 book, "Developing Students' Statistical Reading: Connecting Research and Teaching Practice."  Along with Michael Posner from Villanova, Bob also lead breakout session to help participants start statistics educational research programs and agendas in their respective departments.  Finally, Bob contributed two poster presentations.  One focused on the STI and GOALS v.2 instruments developed under e-ATLAS, including national data from teachers and students (poster co-authored with Joan Garfield, Andy Zieffler, and Elizabeth Fry).  The other presented validity and reliability aspects of the LOCUS assessments using the modified evidence-centered design approach, based on data from 3,430 students in grades 6 through 12 (co-authored with Tim Jacobbe and Douglas Whitaker).

Amid all of the excellent scholarly work was plenty of fun!  Bob and Nicola explored State College, including an important walk for ice cream from a local creamery.  Statistics PhD folks from Penn State further served as gracious guests, providing rewarding socializing and taking Bob and Nicola out to dinner.  They also spent quality time with stat ed colleague Catherine Case from the Florida LOCUS group.

The trip was not without some traveling adventures!  A poor bird flapped its way into the wrong tree at the airport, as shown below, delaying the flight.

The sad fluff from a feathered friend who flew too well -- leading to an adventurous flight delay.

To round out the trip, Bob graciously took a moment to show off his harmonica skills with a bluesy and delightful performance!

All in all, it was a great conference and a fantastic part of this summer!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Summer So Far Part 1: College in the Schools

Summer is in full swing!  Among all of the fun summer activities, good time was spent on furthering the partnership, growth, and camaraderie withe teachers in the College in the Schools (CIS) program.  During the first week of July, about 25 teachers from schools participating in CIS all over Minnesota visited the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.  Hosted by our Stat Ed family, it provided an excellent opportunity for teachers to meet face-to-face, observe how the CATALST course is implemented, and discuss and share ideas with our Stat Ed faculty and students.

A white board filled with intelligence in the summer CATALST class (EPSY 3264) visited by CIS teachers.

The days were packed with full agendas.  Visiting instructors completed activities from the CATALST curriculum, including the "iPod Shuffle" and "Comparing Airlines" activities.  Additionally, they were treated to a full observation of the CATALST course in action, by attending Andy Zieffler's summer EPSY 3264 course, which covered the "Helper/Hinderer" and "Comparing Airlines" activities.  Following the class, fruitful discussion and team-building took place.  Lastly, instructors completed assessments together, and talked about distinctive CATALST assessment methods, such as holistic grading and group quizzes and exams.

The bountiful group discussions and interactions throughout the visit spurred a key growth: the development of a Community of Practice, where instructors better got to know each other, as well as many of us here in Stat Ed.  Importantly, this included an essential round of sharing fun personal facts!

As a promising sign at the end of the visit, it was a great joy to see how excited the visiting instructors were about using Tinkerplots.

All in all, it was a successful week and another great chapter in the partnership with CIS.

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.