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eCOTS 2014 - Breakout Session #11

"Statistics for and with Physical Scientists"
Randall Pruim, Calvin College


Recent articles in the Journal of Chemical Education (A Statistics Curriculum for the Undergraduate Chemistry Major, Nicholas E. Schlotter, J Chem Ed 2013 90 (1), 51-55) and Science (Stats for Scientists, McCartney, M, Science 2013, 339, 628.) highlight both the importance of statistics for the physical sciences and the gap between what scientists want and what statisticians provide for students at the undergraduate level. This gap is caused by the pressures of an already full curriculum and by concerns that statisticians might not provide the right training for scientists even if time could be found for students to take a statistics course.

The ASA has responded with a call to collaboration (Collaboration To Meet the Statistical Needs in the Chemistry Curriculum, Davidian, M and Kutal, C, Journal of Chem. Educ, 2014 91 (1), 12-12). At Calvin, as at many institutions, chemistry and physics students are not required to take any statistics courses. Until recently, this was true of engineering students as well. Over the last several years, I've been in conversation first with physics and then with engineering colleagues to see what can be done locally to improve the situation. Our incubator is a new 2-credit statistics course taken by all engineering majors in their sophomore year. This session will discuss what scientists want (and don't want) from statistics as well as some lessons learned about establishing conversation partners with scientists.

Time will be provided to allow participants to ask questions and to share their experiences in building bridges between statistics and the natural sciences.



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