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Increasing the Pipeline Through Undergraduate Programs: Statistics at Liberal Arts Colleges

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Many became coed in the 1970s. Smith, Wellesley, and MHC have ... Survey on Statistics within the Liberal Arts College, Tom Moore and Julie Legler, 2003 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Increasing the Pipeline Through Undergraduate Programs: Statistics at Liberal Arts Colleges


1
Increasing the Pipeline Through Undergraduate
Programs Statistics at Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Katherine Taylor Halvorsen
  • Department of Mathematics Statistics
  • Smith College
  • Workshop for Chairs of Statistics and
    Biostatistics Programs
  • JSM, Denver, CO
  • August 2, 2008

2
Overview
  • Whats a liberal arts college?
  • Statistics in liberal arts colleges
  • Challenges for statistics faculty in liberal arts
    colleges
  • Characteristics of liberal arts students
  • Attracting and keeping liberal arts students in
    graduate statistics
  • Synergies between liberal arts colleges and
    statistics graduate programs

3
Whats a Liberal Arts College?
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Provide general education, not vocational
  • Instill habits and methods of learning
  • Emphasize breadth over depth
  • Attain breadth through
  • Distribution requirements
  • Strong advising
  • Majors often limited to 10 required courses
  • May require at least half of total credits taken
    outside major

4
Whats a Liberal Arts College?
  • Typically LACs are small and old
  • 1200 to 2400 students
  • 150-280 full-time faculty, most with PhDs
  • Few adjunct faculty
  • Bowdoin founded 1794, Grinnell 1846, Dickinson
    1783, Mount Holyoke 1837, Smith 1872
  • Most started as single-sex institutions
  • Many became coed in the 1970s
  • Smith, Wellesley, and MHC have remained womens
    colleges

5
Whats a Liberal Arts College?
  • Focus is on undergraduate education
  • Classes are typically small (10-45 students)
  • Graduate programs, if any, are small

6
Statistics in Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Few PhD statisticians among faculty
  • 53 of colleges have none
  • 40 have one
  • Three standard courses offered
  • 88 teach Intro (with or without a calc
    requirement)
  • 81 teach Probability-Math Stat sequence
    (compared to 93 in 1993)
  • Software heavily used in stat courses
  • 75 of Intro courses use software
  • 55 of Probability-Math Stat courses use software
  • Survey on Statistics within the Liberal Arts
    College, Tom Moore and Julie Legler, 2003

7
Statistics in Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Student projects incorporated into stats courses
  • 68 of Intro courses use projects
  • 48 of Probability-Math Stat sequences use
    projects
  • Courses beyond the three standard courses are
    offered at 29 of schools surveyed. Courses
    include
  • Regression
  • Stat II
  • Design
  • Linear Models
  • Multivariate
  • Non-parametric
  • Survey on Statistics within the Liberal Arts
    College, Tom Moore and Julie Legler, 2003

8
Statistics in Liberal Arts Colleges(Smith
College as a typical case)
  • Most introductory statistics courses are taught
    outside the Math Stat Department
  • At Smith College these departments teach their
    own stat
  • Math Stat Psychology
    Economics
  • Government Sociology
    Exercise Sport
  • Over half of students who take stat, take it
    outside Math Stat Department
  • Department Students per year
  • Math Stat 130 (34)
  • Psychology 120 (32)
  • Economics 70 (18)
  • Sociology 35 (9)
  • Government 25 (7)
  • Total 380 (100)

9
Statistics in Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Students who take Intro Stat in Math Stat
    Department come from a variety of majors
  • Pooled data from Basic Stat, Engineering Stat,
    and Intro Stat courses at Smith
  • Biology, Biochem, Chemistry 26
  • Math, Logic, Philosophy, CS 12
  • Anthro, Psy, Soc, Econ, Gov 14
  • Physics, Geology, Engineering 26
  • Other departments 23

10
Statistics at Liberal Arts Colleges(Smith
College as a typical case)
  • Statistics concentrators major in mathematics and
    take their electives in statistics
  • Major requires 10 courses
  • Calculus I, II, III
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Linear Algebra
  • Introduction to Probability Statistics
  • Regression (or Design)
  • Probability
  • Mathematical Statistics
  • Analysis (or Calculus IV)

11
Challenges for statistics faculty in liberal arts
colleges
  • Expectations of faculty
  • Excellence in teaching
  • Teaching 2-2, 2-3, or 3-3 courses per year
  • Maintaining an ongoing research program
    (including grant writing)
  • Advising (premajors and majors)
  • Committee service (elective and appointed)
  • Statistical consulting for colleagues, the
    college, and external groups

12
Challenges for statistics faculty in liberal arts
colleges
  • Working in isolation (somewhat alleviated by
    ISOSTAT, JSM, AP Statistics Grading, ASA new
    faculty mentoring)
  • Typically expected to teach calculus or other
    math courses
  • Math colleagues have different expectations and
    assumptions
  • Difficult to hire statisticians

13
Liberal Arts Students
  • Students are of traditional age
  • Most are18-22
  • Smith, Wellesley, and MHC have programs for
    non-traditional aged women (24 and older)

14
Liberal Arts Statistics Students
  • Students are talented and motivated
  • Broad undergraduate backgrounds
  • Good communication skills oral written
  • Used to working independently
  • Used to projects that involve data collection,
    analysis, and interpretation
  • Strong computer skills in data analysis
  • BUT, have fewer math stat courses than typical
    math or stat major at a university

15
Liberal Arts Students
  • Students are used to
  • A small-school atmosphere
  • Excellent teaching
  • Opportunities for research with faculty
  • Close relationships with some faculty including
    dinners at faculty homes
  • Inclusive departmental activities talks, meals,
    clubs, contests, conferences, hiring decisions
  • Being encouraged in their work and taken
    seriously by adults

16
Liberal Arts Students
  • Student plans for their future
  • Many expect to go to graduate programs eventually
  • Usually 1 or 2 go to graduate school directly
    from their undergraduate programs
  • Approximately 1 student every 2 or 3 years goes
    to graduate school in statistics
  • Most take a year or two off after college to work
    or explore (e.g., Teach for America)

17
Attracting and Keeping Liberal Arts Students in
Statistics and Biostatistics Graduate Programs
  • Students come from a background where they were
    nurtured as a whole person
  • Coming from a small school, the adjustment to a
    large university may create significant stress
  • They know they are bright and capable
  • They are not used to a more competitive
    environment
  • They are not used to struggling with academic
    work
  • They dont know they are under prepared for
    graduate work
  • They may conclude they are no good and drop out
    (or worse)

18
Attracting and Keeping Liberal Arts Students in
Statistics and Biostatistics Graduate Programs
  • And there is a two-cultures issue in many
    graduate programs
  • Many Asian students come to U.S. graduate schools
    already holding masters degrees in math or stat
    from their own country
  • Their undergraduate programs consisted almost
    entirely of math and stat courses
  • And they speak to each other in their native
    languages outside of class
  • U.S. students feel overwhelmed and excluded. The
    math and stat are above their level and so is the
    pace.

19
Attracting and Keeping Liberal Arts Students in
Statistics and Biostatistics Graduate Programs
  • For US students the transition from undergraduate
    to graduate school is analogous to the transition
    from high school to college
  • Graduate schools might try some of the strategies
    colleges use to help less well- prepared students
    to succeed

20
Attracting and Keeping Liberal Arts Students in
Statistics and Biostatistics Graduate Programs
  • Some possible strategies
  • Initiate summer programs students attend in the
    summer before their first year in graduate school
  • Discuss the issue of prior preparation with
    entering students. Tell them what you expect
    them to know and tell them how to address their
    lack of preparation
  • Assign trained advisors to the first-year
    students to ensure that students get appropriate
    advice on their first semester courses
  • Ensure student success by enrolling them in
    courses they can complete

21
Attracting and Keeping Liberal Arts Students in
Statistics and Biostatistics Graduate Programs
  • More suggestions for addressing the problem
  • Group students on prior experience and use strong
    advising to guide different groups into different
    courses
  • Allow students entering with only a bachelors
    degree more time (one or two semesters) before
    taking the qualifying exams

22
Attracting and Keeping Liberal Arts Students in
Statistics and Biostatistics Graduate Programs
  • Additional suggestions
  • Welcome students to your program through social
    events with the department
  • Spend time with students outside of class (office
    hours, department events)
  • Create a department culture that values students
  • Reach out to students who struggle
  • Use student evaluations to monitor teaching
    quality

23
Synergies between liberal arts colleges and
statistics graduate programs
  • Liberal Arts Colleges can provide talented, hard
    working, enthusiastic students to graduate
    programs
  • Graduate programs in statistics can encourage
    their talented students to consider careers in
    liberal arts colleges

24
Resources
  • Statistics at Liberal Arts Colleges, Thomas L.
    Moore and Rosemary A. Roberts, The American
    Statistician, May 1989, Vol 43, No. 2, 80-85.
  • Survey on Statistics within the Liberal Arts
    College, Tom Moore and Julie Legler,
    http//www.math.grinnell.edu/mooret/reports/repor
    ts.html
  • Report to ASA Board from the Strategic
    Initiatives Workshop on "Strengthening
    connections between liberal arts colleges and
    graduate programs in statistics" Tom Moore
    http//www.math.grinnell.edu/mooret/reports/repor
    ts.html
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