By Larry Lesser (The University of Texas at El Paso)
Poetry is one modality of educational fun in statistics (https://www.causeweb.org/cause/resources/fun/references; Lesser, Jan. 2020 Journal of Humanistic Mathematics). Adapting Emmons’ (2017) taxonomy, we’ll explore three poem types: statistics as a major subject, statistics language/imagery applied to something nonstatistical, or statistics-informed structure (e.g., shapes or sampling). At a mid-sized public Hispanic-serving research university, I write and incorporate statistics poetry for 40-student sections of statistical literacy and offer (extra-credit) opportunities to create their own art (Lesser, 2018 eCOTS). Our IRB-approved student-randomized experiment (2016 JSE) included only one poem (yielding 3% improvement) so more research is needed on possible benefits: making content memorable, prioritizing/consolidating concepts (to fit a concise form), breaking stereotypes, lowering anxiety, building classroom community, contrasting everyday and statistical language, and having easier entry than, say, songwriting. Our focus here is offering bibliography, resources, and classroom-tested implementation tips (e.g., our fall 2019 Teaching Statistics column) for having students explore connections involving language, content, or structure.