Faculty Examines Teaching of Statistics

Provost, Professors Consider a More Interdisciplinary Approach for GSAS

An initiative to consider a more interdisciplinary approach to the teaching of statistics across the University is being examined in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Provost Jerry R. Green said in an interview Monday.

An informal group of several faculty members met earlier this month to discuss the matter, Green said.

"I have had a number of conversations with people...trying to explore whether we could pool our resources and learn from each other," he said. "I called a meeting...with everyone I spoke to. We had a very good conversation."

Green said he has "handed the ball" to Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Christoph J. Wolff. Wolf is out of the country and could not be reached for comment this week.

While Green said he was primarily looking at statistics teaching at the graduate level, he said the project would also involve teaching at the undergraduate level.


"Perhaps we won't have a [specific] proposal, but I can imagine, for example, statistics courses taken by psychology concentrators...It might be very interesting for them to take a class together with the School of Education," Green said.

Members of the informal committee said yesterday that they applaud the provost's efforts.

"By exploring teaching in other disciplines, you get a greater understanding of it within your own discipline," said Nan M. Laird, Walcott professor of biostatistics in the Faculty of Public Health.

One specific possibility which came up in the informal meeting was a University-wide master's degree in statistics, which undergraduates might be able to receive in a five-year B.A.-master's program, according to Professor of Statistics Donald P. Rubin.

Rubin said that he originally suggested the degree four years ago.

The links Green is forming between different faculties have not existed formally in the past, professors said.