3I: Encouraging Underrepresented Students Through Engagement: Course Policies, Daily Questions, and Biography Assignments

With Matthew Hawks (US Naval Academy)


How can statistics instructors encourage underrepresented students to pursue further studies in statistics? Three major pioneers in our field promoted eugenics! Even generations later, the statistics discipline can appear hostile to those who are not white and male. This breakout session provides three tangible ways for undergraduate (and secondary) statistics instructors to overcome this apparent barrier. First, formulate a course policy that - up front - explicitly recognizes past exclusions. Such a statement addresses concerns that a student may not “belong” in the field. Second, institute a practice that nurtures respect for every individual. Asking a daily question allows students to open up to their peers and provides opportunities for student validation. Third, incorporate a biographical assignment that exposes students to contributions from underrepresented individuals. Such an assignment helps students to recognize that inherent, immutable characteristics are not predictors of a successful future in statistics. Session participants would receive daily, tangible methods to enfold inclusion into their classroom and foster an environment that explicitly encourages underrepresented students. The session seeks to empower instructors - to assist them in their vital mission to ensure underrepresented students do not self-exclude from a future in the field of statistics. To foster participant engagement, the session includes multiple role-playing exercises and interactive guided notes.