Statistics in 2014 - American Statistical Association

Statistics in 2014: Reflections on the Occasion
of the 175th anniversary of the American
Statistical Association
Ronald L. Wasserstein, Executive Director, ASA
In this brief time together, I hope to
• Convince you that it is a GREAT time to be a statistician
• That you should be very proud of what you do
• Illustrate that there are many challenges for our profession,
and that we are addressing them in a rich variety of ways
• Inspire you with at least one thing you can do to join in
addressing the challenges
Two themes drive ASA activities
• Fully developing the ASA’s role as “The
Big Tent for Statistics”
• Increasing the visibility of the profession
From these, three overlapping
areas of focus emerged for
175th anniversary activities
Education-related activities
National PR Campaign
Statistical Education of Teachers (SET)
Qualifications for teaching the intro course in statistics
Curriculum for undergraduate statistics majors
Big data
Professional development
A National Public
Relations Campaign
for Statistics
Statisticians talking about their jobs
• Here are two samples
– Genevera Allen
– Roger Peng
– (
You can help!
• Be aware of the campaign and follow its progress
• Share what you know about the PR campaign
website with students, colleagues, professional
networks, via social media, etc.
• Use the materials in your classes
• More opportunities to be involved coming in 2015
• Make it an INTERNATIONAL campaign
• Contact the ASA’s PR Coordinator, Jeff Myers
The Statistical Education of
Teachers (SET)
The Statistical Education of Teachers (SET)
• Preparing pre-service teachers to effectively teach statistics
• Writers:
– Chris Franklin
– Anna Bargagliotti
– Tim Jacobbe
– Gary Kader
– Richard Schaeffer
– Denise Spangler
Preliminary content of SET (sneak preview!)
• Teachers of all grade levels need to understand the “statistical
• Preparation in statistics should be connected through the grade
• Content at each grade band should progress teachers through the
statistical investigative process
Preliminary recommendations of SET
• SET recommends that elementary teachers take
– A special section of an intro course, OR
– An entire course in statistics content for teachers, OR
– A reconfiguration of an existing content course for teachers
to include at least 6 weeks of study of statistics and related
ideas in probability
Preliminary recommendations of SET
• SET recommends that middle school teachers take
– A special section of an intro course, AND
– A course focused on the statistical content they will be
teaching using the GAISE framework as a model.
Preliminary recommendations of SET
• SET recommends that high school teachers take
– An introductory course that emphasizes modern data analysis,
simulation approaches to inference using the appropriate technologies
– A second course including randomization and classical procedures for
– A statistical modeling course based on multiple regression
You can help!
• Write to Chris Franklin at the University of Georgia if
you have suggestions
• Consider how to implement these ideas in your
• Evaluate your institution’s connections with the
teacher education program
ASA/MAA Joint Statement on the
Qualifications for Teaching an
Introductory Statistics Course
• In the US, most undergraduate statistics courses are
taught in departments other than departments of
The statement…
Encourages qualified instruction of the modern intro course
Describes what the modern intro course is
Describes what teachers of such courses need to know
Describes the minimum educational requirements
• Ideally, a department considering hiring or
selecting someone to teach an introductory
statistics course should require a candidate to
have at least a master’s degree with a strong
concentration in statistics.
• But because this is often not possible, the individual should
have at a minimum at least the equivalent of
– Two statistical methods courses, and
– experience with data analysis beyond material taught
in the introductory class
You can help!
• Give the statement a good read
• Spread the word
• Help others
Guidelines for the
undergraduate curriculum in
The working group
• Beth Chance (Cal Poly San Luis
• Stephen H. Cohen (National
Science Foundation)
• Scott Grimshaw (Brigham Young
• Johanna Hardin (Pomona
• Tim Hesterberg (Google)
• Roger Hoerl (Union College)
• Nicholas Horton (Amherst
College, chair)
• Chris Malone (Winona State
• Rebecca Nichols (American
Statistical Association)
• Deborah Nolan (University of
California, Berkeley)
Time for an update
• Increasing importance of statistics
• Growing number of bachelors level statistics
• Growing demand for undergraduate programs in
• A lot has changed since the current guidelines were
Preliminary recommendations
• Not just a collection of unrelated tools
• Tools for and experience with working with complex data
• Work with data, ask good questions, communicate results
• Develop data, computing, and visualization skills
Preliminary recommendations
• Effective statisticians at any level display an integrated
combination of skills that are built upon statistical
theory, mathematics, statistical application, computation,
data manipulation, and communication.
Key skills
You can help!
• Review the draft proposed guidelines, and send
feedback to
• Review your current guidelines for minor and majors
and consider changes to your curricula, and/or
• prepare a submission for the special issue of the
American Statistician on the undergraduate statistics
Big Data/Data Science
ASA’s big data/data science initiative
• Engagement with stakeholders
• Curriculum development
• Continuing professional development
Common professional development theme
• The well-trained statistician needs to know
how to “make it to the middle.”
This has led to a new direction for professional
development in the ASA
Components of the PSD program
• Communication: Speaking, presentation, consulting,
listening, and writing
• Collaboration: Team building, teamwork, and
understanding personality types
• Career Planning: Finding a challenging and rewarding
position, goal setting, career advancement, negotiation, and
strategic planning
• Leadership: Influence, conflict resolution, and creative
problem solving
For example, at JSM 2014
• “Preparing Statisticians for Leadership: How to See
the Big Picture and Have More Influence”
• “Effective Presentations for Statisticians”
• “Strategic Career Management”
• “Learning and Improving Skills to Become a More
Effective Statistical Collaborator”
• “From Idea to Publication: How to Get that Book
• “Career Development: Challenges and
Opportunities for Statistical Innovation and Impact”
You can help!
• Do your best to stay current on methods,
applications, and pedagogy in your areas of
• Model professional development for your students
• Remember that the non-technical skills you teach
will be critical to students as well
Impact-related activities
• White papers
• Future of the Statistical Sciences Workshop
• International Prize in Statistics
White papers help drive research funding
• Aimed at major research funders, addressing their priorities
• Tell the story
– Statisticians are vital partners in advancing science with their
expertise in experimental design, inference, and quantifying
– Articulate the essential expertise statisticians can provide to
help tackle our nation’s critical research priorities.
White papers
• Discovery with Data: Leveraging Statistics with Computer
Science to Transform Science and Society
• Statistical Research and Training Under the BRAIN
• Statistical Science: Contributions to the Administration’s
Research Priority on Climate Change
You can help!
• Volunteer to be on the writing team for future
• Share the whitepapers (and read them – they are
interesting and useful, and have classroom
Future of the Statistical Sciences
• Aimed at non-statistical audiences
• A great resource for statistical educators
– Section 1: Case studies
• Randomized controlled trials
• The Bayesian paradigm and image processing
• MCMC revolution
• Statistics in court
• Statistics, Genomics, and Cancer
• After the Gold Rush: Kriging and Geostatistics
• ‘Analytics’ in Sports and Politics
• Section 2: Current Trends and Future Challenges in
Statistics: Big Data
• Section 3: Current Trends and Future Challenges in
Statistics: Other Topics
Reproducibility crisis
Climate change
Updating the RCT
Statistics versus conventional wisdom
• Section 4: Conclusion
You can help!
• Share the link
• Share the report with appropriate entities
• Post a short note about the report with its link to
your website
• Send a copy to the statistics departments at
universities in your country
An International Prize in
The prize will
• Recognize major achievement in the field of statistics
• Raise media and public awareness of the importance of
• Identify and support valuable insights and advancements
The International Prize Foundation
Susan Ellenberg, University of Pennsylvania (ASA)
David Madigan, Columbia University (IMS)
Neils Keiding, University of Copenhagen (IBS)
Richard Laux, UK Statistics Authority (RSS)
Xuming He, University of Michigan (ISI)
Ron Wasserstein (ASA) – interim Secretary
The International Prize will (eventually)
• Be a $1M prize
• Awarded annually at one of the major statistics meetings
• Be a big deal in the media
You can help!
• Help us spread the word about this big dream
• Post a link to the site
• Help us think about who might have the means and
the interest in the prize (Thoughts? Send to
• Are you convinced that it is a GREAT time to be a
statistician? And are you proud to be one?
• Did you get a sense of the challenges we are tackling? Are
we attempting to address the right challenges?
• Did you find at least one way you can help?
Contact me: Ron Wasserstein

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