Training Statistics Teachers at Iowa State University

By Froelich, Amy G.; Duckworth, William M. et al. | The American Statistician, February 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Training Statistics Teachers at Iowa State University

Froelich, Amy G., Duckworth, William M., Stephenson, W. Robert, The American Statistician


The process of training graduate students to be statistics teachers is an informal one in the Department of Statistics at Iowa State University. We do not teach a course for graduate students in methods of teaching statistics. However, we do have a specific process for selecting and mentoring graduate student teaching assistants. First-year graduate students start as laboratory instructors/graders where they facilitate hands-on group activities for undergraduate students in introductory statistics classes. Those graduate students who do well as laboratory instructors are given the opportunity to teach a section of an introductory statistics course in their second year. The department provides mentoring and resources to help graduate student instructors meet the challenges of teaching statistics to undergraduate students.


Before discussing the role of graduate students in instruction in the Department of Statistics at Iowa State, it would be helpful to give some background to the reader about the structure of the introductory courses in the department. We offer several different introductory courses, each designed for a particular group of undergraduate majors. Statistics 101 is the general introductory course for all nonbusiness or nonengineering majors. This course meets three times (50 minutes each) a week in a large (approximately 100 students) "lecture" section. Lecture is in quotes because these meetings include small group activities, demonstrations, and opportunities for students to actively participate in the class. The class is split into two laboratory sections (approximately 50 students each) for a two-hour laboratory each week. The laboratory sessions consist of hands-on activities including data collection, data analysis, random sampling, designing experiments, and simulation activities on the central limit theorem, confidence intervals, and the importance of randomization as a basis for inference. The laboratory period is also used to review for, or give, exams and for students to work on a group data collection and analysis project.

Statistics 104 is the introductory course for agriculture and biology majors. This course meets twice a week for "lecture" (50 minute periods) and once for a two-hour laboratory. The laboratory is similar to that for Stat 101 but with examples and activities with an agricultural or biological context. The third introductory level statistics course is for business majors, Stat 226. This class meets three times a week in 50 minute "lecture" sections. There is no laboratory component to this course. (There are several different introductory courses for engineering majors, however, these courses are not often taught by graduate students.)

Each semester there are five lecture sections each of Stat 101, 104, and 226 with approximately 100, 50, and 80 students in each section, respectively. A faculty member, called the course coordinator, is in charge of each course. In a given semester, the course coordinator usually teaches one section of the introductory course and the remaining sections are taught by graduate students. Graduate students are thus responsible for teaching approximately 80% of the students enrolled in these courses.

Over the years, the introductory courses have evolved in response to the recommendations of the statistics reform movement to include more data, more concepts, and more use of the computer. In particular, we have tried to incorporate the suggestions of Moore (1997) in terms of reforming the content and pedagogy in the introductory courses. The primary goals of each introductory statistics course are to have students begin to understand statistical thinking and to be able to apply this understanding and to help answer substantive questions by collecting and analyzing appropriate data. To this end, each course now teaches a mix of methods (how to collect data, how to display data distributions, how to construct confidence intervals, etc.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Training Statistics Teachers at Iowa State University


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?