Daily Archives: January 11, 2018

Mathematicians Teaching Intro Stats

Yesterday, I went to a panel about mathematicians teaching statistics. My department is a math/stats department so I have had the opportunity to TA many statistics classes, and I’ve really enjoyed it. The panelists all followed a similar trajectory of being forces to teach a statistics class, doing so as if it were a math class (heavily focused on definitions, equations, and procedures) and then over ten to twenty years reconstructing their class into something more focused on concepts, real world examples, and technology.

From left Charilaos Skiadas, Hanover College, Sue Schou, Idaho State University, Chris Oehrlein, Oklahoma City Community College, and Pati Frazer, St. Lawrence College

A lot of my students know how to follow the procedures of a hypothesis test quite well, but I can tell they don’t know really understand what a p-value is, and I wish I knew how to impart that understanding in the brief once-a-week discussion sections I have with them. The logic of hypothesis testing is more important, and more likely to stick with them than the details of each of the different models used in various hypothesis testing. If they do go on to use statistics in their work, they will likely be using technology, and it is the deep understanding of what a hypothesis test is that will ensure they use that technology appropriately. What I don’t think I fully appreciated before this panel was the extent to which a focus on procedures and equations can get in the way of learning statistical thinking.

The panelists have gathered a lot of useful information on this page, including links to real world data, curriculum recommendations from the MAA and ASA, and statistics teaching communities. I’ll be looking back to this the next time I get to TA (or teach!) an intro stats class.

Adriana and Hermione’s Time Turner

Every time I come to the Joint Math Meetings, I wish I had the time turner that Hermione uses in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There is too much interesting stuff all happening at the same time!  This time in particular was a first for me as far as Joint Math Meetings go: the two things I organized were scheduled at the same time!

AWM Panel on Being a Mathematician and an Activist. Left to right: Michelle Manes (moderator), Beth Malmskog, Federico Ardila, Piper Harron, Lily Khadjavi, and Karen Saxe.

First (or second?) I co-organized the AWM panel on Being a Mathematician and an Activist. Luckily, my co-organizer Michelle Manes had already volunteered to be the moderator (and she did an amazing job), so it didn’t matter that I ran in a few minutes late (because my simultaneous special session needed my laptop). I decided to go to the panel (2:15pm to 3:40pm), since I felt that Michelle might need more support. I tried to give the needed support, but I was spectacularly bad at figuring out when people had questions. The panel itself went really well (in my opinion). The panelists all had very insightful things to say, but I was struck by how many of them didn’t consider themselves to be “doing enough” to deserve the label “activist”. Another common thread was the need to fight for equity and justice, but also the sentiment that the goal should be that we no longer have to fight for any of this, and that racism, misogyny, and bigotry in general have no place in our society.

Stephan Ramon Garcia, from Pomona, gives a talk in the AMS special session on A Showcase of Number Theory at Liberal Arts Colleges.

Second (or first?) I co-organized the AMS Special Session on A Showcase in Number Theory at Liberal Arts Colleges (2:15pm to 6:05pm). Again, I was lucky to have a co-organizer, Lola Thompson, who took charge of the session while I was at the panel. Important lesson, when your computer is being used by all the presenters, and you’re not in the room, bad things can happen (like your computer going into sleep mode and no one knowing your password). It was not a disaster because the other presenters had a computer, but still. I missed two of the talks in the session, and arrived late at the next, but I’m glad I was able to see most of them. I’m really proud of this session, because it is a really fantastic group of high-quality researchers at small (and sometimes underestimated) institutions. Lola and I may be bringing this back next year (there were so many more people that we could have invited!), so stay tuned for that!

All in all, a pretty exhausting day, with traveling, double-booked organizing, and a panel that I’m hoping to write more about tomorrow. I was hoping to go to the AWM reception, but I’m barely awake enough to type (while lying in my hotel room bed). Hope you all had a time-turning-worthy day too!

What are you excited about at JMM 2018?

I asked a handful of participants (including myself) what they’re excited about at JMM 2018. The answers highlight how wonderfully eclectic this conference is.