Award Number1432251
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2015-01-01
Expiration Date2017-12-31
Funding Amount$571,091

Abstract

This project is reaching out to under-prepared statistics instructors in the nation's community college system to provide them with modern content and the ability to teach it using evidence-based teaching methods. The statistics instructors in community colleges often lack sufficient resources or connections to take advantage of all that is offered by the growing statistics education community. At the same time, the explosive growth in everyday use of statistics places a great burden of responsibility on statistics educators. Statistical literacy is vital for engaged and active citizenship. Leaders in the statistical community have identified educating educators as a critical need for the near future. Statistics education researchers have developed theoretically grounded and evidence-based pedagogical practices that can strengthen present and future teachers.

The approach being taken in this project is to pair 72 community college instructors in need of professional development with 12 established statistics educator mentors across 4 regional hubs. The mentors will help these instructors gain both content knowledge and the ability to use current best evidence-based practices in their teaching. These practices are consistent with the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education. The instructors will participate in two expert-led workshops each year, will meet in monthly professional learning communities through which mentors will promote interaction and peer-learning, and will be integrated into the statistics education community. The project will also integrate these community college instructors into the national statistics education communities through the US Conference on Teaching Statistics, online connections, and conferences. The project is creating mentoring relationships and professional learning community programs.

The regional hubs and mentoring relationships created by this project will provide ongoing opportunities for community college instructors to interact with the growing statistics education community that is dedicated to quality statistics education. The effectiveness of this approach to propagating best practices will also be carefully studied as part of the project. The project will examine whether this approach can become a foundation for future regional and national collaborative projects. By providing professional development opportunities beyond the abilities of most community colleges, this project could affect new and continuing faculty members for many years to come. It is creating both the social interactions and the structure needed to sustain these endeavors beyond the time frame of the grant.