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.