USCOTS 2009 - Breakout Session #3

  1. Roxy Peck, Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo

    "Just Say No To..."

    The theme of USCOTS 2009 is "Letting Go to Grow". In the spirit of this theme, this session will engage participants in a discussion of the things that we can/should just say no to in the context of the introductory statistics course. I have a few thoughts on the subject that I will share, and if you choose this session, please come prepared to share ideas from your own experience. We will identify a few of the most controversial "just say no to" items proposed and then participants will have the opportunity to participate as a member of a pro or con team in a debate format.

  2. Ron Wasserstein, American Statistical Association

    "Brainstorming more ways to inspire students through use of data from the federal statistical system."

    For many years, a running theme at USCOTS and elsewhere has been the value of using real data to help students see the relevance and applicability of statistics. The federal statistical agencies have invested in significant efforts to make data accessible and available. In his dinner talk on Friday night, Ron highlighted some of these resources, and revealed some results that are surprising (at least to him!). In this related breakout session, Ron will demonstrate the use of some federal data, and provide information for those who want to learn more.

  3. Peter Ewell, Center for Higher Education Management Systems

    "Assessing the Impact of Changing a Course: Some Practical Guidance"

    As technology and growing knowledge about human learning allows, faculty are changing what they do to improve how course content is organized and presented. And many of these changes are implemented extremely rapidly. Because they are new and exciting, we believe they will improve student learning. But will they really? This breakout explores some simple ways to determine whether these changes are really making a difference.

  4. Diane Fisher, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Jennifer Kaplan, Michigan State University; & Neal Rogness, Grand Valley State University

    "Letting Go of Assumptions about How Students Understand Statistical Language"

    This session will begin with an introduction of the concept of Lexical Ambiguity including relevant research and its importance to the study of statistics education. The session participants will then use think-pair-share in increasingly larger groups to identify statistical terms that tend to be misunderstood by their students and to have the characteristics of lexical ambiguity. This activity will focus on identification of misconceptions about these words and ways to assess them. The researchers will then share the results of the research about 5 particular words that they have been studying for the last year. The session will end with a discussion of how to address some of the misconceptions and misuses through instruction and how to build statistical understanding of terms that have different meanings outside of the statistics class.

  5. Karen Kinard, Tallahassee Community College

    "TYC: It's 2009 - Are we There Yet?"

    In two-year college math/statistics courses we typically have to live by a specified calendar and syllabus for the semester into which one or two sections are placed each class day. Good grief! There's no space left after all the required sections are placed. Many adjuncts/full timers feel tied down tightly. The students like the clarity, but they don't know what they're missing. But neither do the teachers! Indeed there are lots of things that can be let go, while still meeting the requirements of your department, including the students, in the sense of "let them run with something" instead of controlling their every move. Trusting some open space in the schedule when there are some clear guidelines, assignments, and goals, can produce magic through their sense of freedom and their imaginations. In this session, you see and discuss my top 10 list of things we should be letting go of. (For example: "Let go of rewarding just the numerical answer.") You'll also do some activities with me that I do in my class, and get the materials, related practice, and assessment questions to take home with you.

  6. Danny Kaplan, Macalester College; & Andrew Zieffler, University of Minnesota

    "Using R for Teaching Statistics"

    This breakout session will introduce participants to using R in an introductory statistics course. We will start from the basics - descriptive statistics, graphs, and standard hypothesis tests - and then move on to innovative ways of using computing to illustrate statistical concepts - resampling, bootstrapping and simulations. In the session we will use example exercises from a few widely used textbooks for introductory statistics to demonstrate how a few simple R commands can cover most of the computations needed in these courses. We will also show how using R can make it easier to move on to more advanced techniques that are not typically a part of these introductory courses. When powerful computation is at your fingertips, it can become clearer which topics we can "let go to grow." The session will be held in a computer lab, but participants can feel free to bring their own laptop. Participants need no previous experience with R. More information is available at