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Topic: Report on AP Stats Meeting at NCTM San Diego
Replies: 2   Last Post: Apr 30, 1996 4:14 PM

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Al Coons

Posts: 898
Registered: 12/4/04
Report on AP Stats Meeting at NCTM San Diego
Posted: Apr 29, 1996 11:18 PM
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**REPORT ON AN INFORMAL MEETING OF AP STATISTICS TEACHERS
at
**THE NCTM NATIONAL CONVENTION, SAN DIEGO, 4/26/96

(Note: This document will also be forward directly to all participants of
the meeting as soon as the email/mailing list is complete.)

ORIGIN OF MEETING:

Noting that there were no scheduled sessions on AP Statistics at the NCTM
National Convention, Joe Ward (joeward@tenet.edu) and Al Coons
(al_coons@aol.com) formed a group of 20 interested teachers through the AP
Statistics Listserv (apstat-l@etc.bc.ca). Penni Zito, of Freeman, provided a
room, appetizers, and flyers advertising the meeting. Thanks Penni.

Approximate 40 people attended the actual meeting. If we had had the time
and resources we probably could have easily attracted 40 more. The great
majority who did attend were high school teachers. There were also a few
college teachers, four publishing company representatives, one software
representative, and one calculator company representative.

What follows is an attempt at fairly describing the most important points of
the 90 minute group discussion:

EXPECTED POPULATION OF AP STATISTICS COURSE:

The percent of teachers expecting their AP Statistics course to be MOSTLY
populated by students with the following characteristics was:

25% - Their school's most able mathematicians - AP Calculus students.
25% - Students who are reasonable good at Algebra II but not AP Calculus
bound.
50% - A balanced mixture of the two above categories.

Discussion: We felt that AP Statistics students need a certain mathematical
maturity and an ability to deal with quantitative concepts. However, success
in the course should not depend on a student's ability to work at the highest
levels of mathematics. There was some concern that students who were not at
the highest ability level would be overshadowed by the strongest students,
but I sensed that many teachers felt that this would not be a problem due to
the conceptual nature of the course. In fact, some teachers felt that
students who are reasonable good but not AP Calculus bound who enrolled in AP
Statistics might due very well because of their excitement about the material
and ability in group settings.

COURSE STYLE:

All teachers felt that they would teach within the standards set out by the
College Board. That is to say that teachers expect extensive use of
projects, gathering and massaging of real-world data, and group work.
However, few teachers expect to have more than 5 major (1 to 2 week)
projects during the course.

COURSE LENGTH:

All but one teacher expects AP Statistics to be a full-year course.

TECHNOLOGY:

33% expect to use calculators only (no computers).
67% expect to use calculators and computers.

All teachers who expect to use computers plan to use MINITAB.

Discussion: There was a discussion concerning whether calculators without
computers would be sufficient. This was motivated not so much by pedagogy,
but by the reality that some teachers will not have computers available for
their students. The consensus was that while there are significant reasons
for having computers available (memory size, storage of data, extra
statistical and graphing routines), students should be able to find success
on the AP without computers and by reading printed output from computers as
found in many texts)

One teacher reported that it was announced at a recent meeting that all
computer output on the AP would be MINITAB!

There was a discussion about trying to read between the lines concerning the
use of computers in the AP Statistics course description. Apparently, the
next release of the description (due out in May?) de-emphasizes the necessity
of computers in preparing for the AP. Participants wondered if this was a
reaction to the reality of lack of computers in many schools, a reaction to
the TI-83's strong statistical abilities, or a fundamental change in the
committee's view of the place of computers in statistics.

TEXTS

Here I will have to editorialize a bit more - I will try to be fair.

A great number of teachers who have been teaching statistics courses feel
very strongly about Moore and McCabe. In fact, no one questions that it is
well written. A large number of teachers have already decided to use this
text.

On the other hand, Moore and McCabe looks very dry and uninviting to other
teachers - particular those who have not been using it and are looking at
many of the books which are just coming on the market. However, it is not
yet clear which, if any, of these new texts are well enough written, cover
the AP syllabus, have sufficient supporting material, and are appropriately
paced.

There are two disjoint camps in this debate (we managed to keep it
friendly!). One camp feels that teachers, real-world data, and exercises can
convey the excitement of statistics. Therefore, since M&M is so well
written, it is the logical book to use. On the other hand, there is a camp
that thinks that even given exciting teaching, data, and exercises, the
nature of the book says a great deal about what statistics is.

Of course, there is no correct answer here. As Joe Ward pointed out, "The
most important thing is that teachers are comfortable with their own choice
of material."

RESOURCES: COLLABORATIVE WORK, DATA SETS, INTERNET

There is a very active of group of teachers in Chicago working together to
find resources, formulate example questions, etc. There is also an active
group in San Antonio. Hopefully, all groups will share what they have found.
It would be great if we had a Home Page with links to resources. We ran out
of time to explore this topic fully.

SOME FRUSTRATIONS and A CALL FOR HELP:

I think we all recognize the AP Statistics Committee's hard work (I THINK
THEY HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB) and our need to attend as many seminars, talks,
and summer programs as possible. At the same time, here are some points
which need clarification:

- Why, at a meeting of 20,000 mathematics teachers, were there no scheduled
meetings about AP Statistics (and little on AP Calculus or Computer)?

- Why, for example, has at least one regional College Board Office been
unaware of the AP listserv until one of us called a few weeks ago?

- If true, why does the next copy of the course description still contain a
recommend text which is out of print?

- If true, why does the next copy of the course description not recommend at
least some of the recently published texts which may fit the published style
of AP Statistics? Perhaps none of these are adequate. Perhaps they have not
been reviewed yet.

- Has it been determined that computer output will be from MINITAB?

- We need many more example questions in order to be able to determine the
depth and pace of our courses. Will they be available?

- Where does the committee stand on the use of computers?

- One participant has heard that a good deal of additional information will
be out in the fall. If true, this is too late for many of us. Hopefully
information can at least be shared through electronic media sooner.

CONCLUSION:

Perhaps what was most important about this meeting was that by sharing ideas
we found out that we are already on the right track. Even given individual
differences in style and resources, it was clear to me that we all have a
reasonable sense of the expectations of the AP. Anyone who makes the choice
to take on a new AP in its first year must be a dedicated and interested
teacher. We will all get to May '97 by some sensible route. What we need
most is as much up-to-date information as possible.

CAVEAT:

My apologies in advance if I have misrepresented individual or collective
opinions from the meeting or the good work of the AP Committee or the College
Board. If so, I hope you will set the record straight.

Albert Coons, Ph.D.
Chair, Instructional Technology Committee
Mathematics Department
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-6100








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