Teaching Ethics in Statistics Class

Tuesday, December 9th, 20082:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Presented by: John H. Walker, California Polytechnic State University


Ethics play an important role in statistical practice. How can we educate our students about statistical ethics--especially when our courses are already packed with so much...statistics? At the Joint Statistical Meetings in August, I was the discussant in a session on "Teaching Ethics in Statistics Class." First, I will briefly review the points raised by the speakers in that session. George McCabe (Purdue) contrasted the "old" introductory statistics course with its emphasis on methodology to the "new" course. Patricia Humphrey (Georgia Southern) spoke about how she covers ethical data collection in her introductory classes. Paul Velleman (Cornell) talked about the role of judgment in statistical model building and how it makes students (and sometimes us) uncomfortable. I will discuss each of these points in the context of the American Statistical Association's "Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice" as well as my own experiences in teaching statistical ethics in an undergraduate capstone course for statistics majors. I will close with an example of statistical ethics in the use of multiple comparison procedures.

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