posted October 10, 2012

Article on New Approach to Teaching Statistics Wins “Best Paper” Award

An article co-authored by multiple scholars at Hope College about innovation in teaching statistics at Hope has won “Best Paper” honors from the “Journal of Statistics Education.”

The article, titled “Development and assessment of a preliminary randomization-based introductory statistics curriculum,” received the journal’s “Best Paper Award” for 2011 during the annual international Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) conference this summer.  The article was co-authored by Dr. Nathan Tintle, who is now on the mathematics faculty at Dordt College but was teaching at Hope when it was written and published; Jill VanderStoep, adjunct assistant professor of mathematics; Brooke Quisenberry, a 2010 Hope graduate who worked on the project as a student; Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes, assistant professor of mathematics and education; and Todd Swanson, assistant professor of mathematics.

Published in the journal’s March 2011 issue, the article focuses on an alternate approach to teaching statistics piloted at Hope beginning in 2009.  While traditional textbooks first walk students through basic concepts and then build up to the deeper applications, the new approach introduces the deeper concepts right away and then focuses on filling in students’ understanding as they apply the concepts in various contexts.

The article discusses how the department of mathematics at Hope redesigned the statistics curriculum and analyzed the assessment data, comparing learning gains in the course with those from the college’s traditional course as well as courses nationwide.

The approach is leading to a new textbook currently being developed with three of the article’s co-authors.  “Introduction to Statistical Investigations” is scheduled to be published in 2014 by John Wiley & Sons of Hoboken, N.J.  The book’s seven co-authors include Tintle, Swanson and VanderStoep, as well as Dr. Beth Chance of California Polytechnic State University; Dr. George Cobb of Mount Holyoke College; Dr. Allan Rossman of California Polytechnic State University; and Dr. Soma Roy of California Polytechnic State University.

Held annually since 1974, the JSM is the world’s largest gathering of statisticians, with some 6,000 attending this year’s event, held in San Diego, Calif., on Saturday-Thursday, July 28-Aug. 2.  The JSM is conducted jointly with the American Statistical Association, the International Biometric Society, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the Statistical Society of Canada, the International Chinese Statistical Association and the International Indian Statistical Association.