Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nation's favorite professors - in statistics???

When introductions are made, and the question comes "so what do you do?" I sheepishly reply "I teach statistics at University of Maryland's business school". The two most popular reactions are
(1) a terrified look -- "statistics? oh, I had to take that in undergrad!", or
(2) a dazed look -- "Wow!" [which really means, "I didn't understand any of it, so how did you figure it out?"]

But sometimes I do come across people who get all excited and say they took a statistics course and LOVED it. And very often it is attributable to the professor. Indeed, from my own school experience I found that statistics can be taught in extremely different ways: boring, scary, and vague, or exciting, useful, and challenging!

Our very own Professor Erich Studer-Ellis, who teaches the core statistics undergraduate classes at the business school, has just been named by BusinessWeek as one of the nation's favorite undergraduate business school professors. Yes -- this is possible! And this is in spite the huge class sizes that he teaches (typically in the hundreds). In fact, among our statistics professors, a majority have received teaching awards. But more importantly, when I meet their students, their eyes glow when they hear "statistics".

The bottom line is, therefore, don't create an impression of statistics based on a sample of n=1 course, unless that impression happens to be positive.
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