eCOTS 2012 - Virtual Poster #14

"Teaching the fundamentals of statistical practice: the three C's"
with Alison Gibbs, University of Toronto

Hosted by: Sam Morris, North Carolina State University

Statistical Consultation, Communication, and Collaboration was designed as a capstone course in statistical practice for students in statistics programs at the University of Toronto, a large research university. Motivated by a desire to immerse our students in an integrative inquiry-based activity, we designed a course whose main component is a collaborative research project with a research student from another discipline. A unique aspect of the course is the number of groups who are benefitting. The students are improving their communication skills, their ability to learn independently, their creativity in problem solving, and they are gaining experience in the professional and ethical practice of statistics. In addition to Improved quantitative work in their research projects, the collaborating students have gained better understanding of their projects and of the benefits of interdisciplinary collaborations. In some cases the collaborations have resulted in fundamental and lasting changes to the research being carried out by the collaborating students' research groups. Senior graduate students in statistics advise the undergraduates in their projects under the mentorship of the faculty instructor. The graduate students are developing their skills as teachers and mentors and collaborators. I will describe the structure of the course, some successes and frustrations, and some greater impact it has had in the statistics department, including an enhanced profile on campus and a part in initiating a new undergraduate program.

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Matthew Hayat:

Thank you for this nice presentation. Congrats on what appears to be a successful and useful course!

Alison Gibbs:

Thanks, Matthew. The best part of the course is that is is extremely fun to teach. Of course it's not without its challenges. A puzzling (for me) challenge, that I didn't mention in the presentation, is getting a wide range of disciplines to be collaborate with us. The ecologists have been extremely enthusiastic, but other groups have been hesitant.