Introductory Statistics

Increasingly, more programs of study require introductory statistics as the preferred college-level mathematics course, leading to strong enrollments in this course. There are challenges, however, in terms of finding qualified instructional staff, particularly when statistics courses are offered within a mathematics department where faculty may not have taken masters-level coursework in statistics or done in-depth statistical analysis. There are also struggles with modernizing the traditional introductory course outcomes in terms of making it data-centric and focused on statistical reasoning per the GAISE (Guidelines on Assessment and Instruction in Statistical Education) guidelines. Burn is a member of the MAA/ASA Joint Committee on Undergraduate Statistics and Data Science Education, serving as the liaison between this committee and the MAA Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics. She is also the Pacific Northwest hub leader for StatPREP, an NSF grant sponsored by the MAA.

Statistics instructors in Washington state from two- and four-year institutions met as part of a working group of the Math Pathways to Completion Project. Our work led to a set of content recommendations for Introduction to Statistics (Math& 146)

The takeaways are:

Our community agrees we need more consistency across the colleges and the six areas in the recommendations are reasonable. Math& 146 at Tacoma Community College can serve as one model for meeting the content recommendation.

Colleges using a wide variety of prequisites for Math& 146 are able to meet the six content areas. The Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) for transferable college-level math courses from Washington community colleges enables colleges to develop unique prerequisites to serve local student populations. However, the UW will continue to require Algebra 2 for admission or an equivalent course from a community college (e.g., Math 98 at Seattle Central College).

There is interest in creating a consortium of colleges to work on the co-requisite models for Math& 146. Some colleges have already begun work. Colleges include:  Highline, Spokane, Spokane Falls, Centralia, Clark, Centralia. In the fall term of 2018, the Dana Center will be hosting a co-requisite workshop in our state. Some colleges are interested in moving ahead in advance. We will circulate more information about these efforts. There is interest in coordinating around OER texts.

There were several takeaways on specific content areas:

Probability expectations are fairly basic and most present are using contingency tables to teach probability, including conditional probability. The addition and multiplication rules are often included and used to highlight mutually exclusive and independent events. Counting rules are generally not included but instead are in a discrete math course for computer science majors.

There was less consensus on the binomial theorem. Several participants advocated for the binomial theorem and felt it flowed with other topics; several also expressed that it seems like an isolated topic.

The Big 5 hypothesis testing expectation would require more time spent on hypothesis testing. Several participants shared how hypothesis testing is built in from the beginning of their course through exploratory data analysis using descriptive statistics. Others shared that experimental design can be included in hypothesis testing during 2-sample tests. Tacoma Community College devotes four weeks to the topic.

Feel free to post your thoughts.   If you are interested, you can addess the Powerpoints for the two video conferences (March 2 and 9, 2018)