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National Science Foundation Grant Workshop held at SMC

Dean of Science Brian Jersky led the first in a series of workshops nationwide on July 27 and 28 at Saint Mary's College. The workshops are funded by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, administered by the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education.

Eight mathematicians from universities across the country gathered at Brousseau Hall to discuss methods for teaching statistics, according to Jersky, a co-principal investigator for the grant. The teaching techniques are aimed at university educators who train secondary and elementary school teachers.

Surprisingly, most instructors who teach advanced placement statistics in high schools or who are involved in elementary school curriculum planning have never taken a statistics course, according to workshop co-presenter Rob Gould, a statistics professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Gould said that statistics has become such a specialized field that some consider it more of a science, closer to physics than to mathematics. In fact, he said, UCLA has a statistics department separate from its mathematics division.

"We've heard a lot of interesting ideas," said Gould of the two-day workshop.