Registration for the 2021 U.S. Conference on Teaching Statistics (USCOTS) opens today. I’m so excited about this that I will devote this blog post to answering 21 questions that you may have* about this conference**.
* You may not even have realized that you have these questions until you read them.
** I also wrote a bit about USCOTS in a meandering and autobiographical post #76, titled Strolling into serendipity, here.
1. Where can I register? Follow the link here.
2. How much is the registration fee? $25. If this would constitute a hardship, you can receive a full waiver.
3. When is it? The conference runs from June 28 – July 1. Sessions will run from approximately 11:30am – 5:30pm Eastern time (U.S.) on each day. Pre-conference workshops begin on June 24.
4. Where is it? USCOTS will be held virtually for the first time this year, so it’s happening wherever you and your internet connection happen to be at the time.
5. Why should I attend USCOTS? (Thanks for asking. I really should have started there, shouldn’t I?) Many statistics conferences include sessions on teaching, and many teaching conferences include sessions on statistics, but USCOTS is devoted entirely to the challenge of teaching statistics well. If you teach statistics at the undergraduate or high school level, you will find sessions that are relevant to your everyday work in every time slot. Our goal is for every session to include both practical advice and thought-provoking ideas, and also to present them in an engaging, perhaps even fun, manner. If you’ve never attended USCOTS, we welcome you and hope that you’ll meet some new friends. If you have attended USCOTS, we welcome you back to renew acquaintances. We hope that you’ll be inspired to improve your teaching of statistics.
6. What is the conference theme? Expanding opportunities.
7. Can you say more about that? We encourage presenters and attendees to interpret this theme broadly, but we primarily have two questions in mind:
- How can we (teachers of statistics and others involved with statistics education) increase participation and achievement in studying statistics by students from underrepresented groups?
- How can we better encourage and support students and colleagues who are beginning or contemplating careers in statistics education?
8. What kind of sessions are planned? Each of the four days will feature a keynote presentation and interactive breakout sessions. We’ll also have “posters and beyond” presentations, “birds-of-a-feather” discussions, and exhibitor demonstration sessions. New this year will be a speed mentoring session. Another highlight will be an awards presentation ceremony. Speaking of highlights, I almost forgot to mention my own favorite: Opening and closing sessions will feature lively five-minute presentations on the conference theme. You can see the conference program here.
9. Who are some of the presenters? The keynote speaker for Monday is Rebecca Nugent from Carnegie Mellon. She will discuss how the emerging field of data science can expand opportunities for students who have been under-represented in statistics. Tuesday’s keynote presentation will be a panel discussion about expanding horizons and fostering diversity, with panelists Felicia Simpson, Jacqueline Hughes-Oliver, Jamylle Carter, Prince Afriyie, and Samuel Echevarria-Cruz. On Wednesday Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein will discuss theme from their book Data Feminism. Alana Unfried from California State University – Monterey Bay will give Thursday’s keynote presentation. She will discuss the advantages of a co-requisite model that enables students needing remediation to enter directly into an introductory statistics course.
10. What are some of the workshop topics? These topics include community-engaged learning, data visualization, data science, Bayesian statistics, R tidyverse, games, multivariable thinking, and statistical literacy. You can see the list of pre-conference workshops here.
11. How about some of the breakout session topics? These topics include data science, social justice, gamification, communication skills, oral assessments, computational thinking, data visualization, community building, educational fun, and data ethics. You can find the list of breakout sessions here.
12. What platforms will the conference use? The primary platform will be zoom. You can attend sessions simply by following zoom links. We’ll make frequent use of breakout rooms, polls, and chat within zoom to increase engagement. We will also use gather.town to replicate an in-person experience more closely.
13. Will the conference be interactive and engaging? That’s our goal. I think this is more challenging with a virtual conference than with an in-person one, but we’ll do our best. Of course, interactivity and engagement depend on participants being willing* to interact and engage.
* I hope eager!
14. Can I still submit a proposal to present at the conference? Yes. Proposals for “posters and beyond” sessions are due by April 22 (here). Proposals to lead a birds-of-a-feather discussion are due by May 31 (here).
15. How can I earn a free registration? Participate in the SPARKS video challenge. This asks for a very short (10-20 seconds) video clip that can be used in teaching statistics. You can see examples and submit your entry here.
16. Do you have a social media hashtag in mind? Yes, please use #USCOTS21.
17. Would you like me to spread the word to colleagues and friends? Yes, absolutely!
18. Do I have to attend every minute of every session of the conference? No. (Whew, I’m glad to have a chance to introduce some variability to that long string of “yes” answers that I have been giving.) Feel free to tune in when you can and step away when you need to. As you would expect, I think it would be ideal if you can block out several hours of uninterrupted time for each day of the conference, but of course I realize that your circumstances may not allow that.
19. Can I see what has happened in previous USCOTS conferences? I can resume my “yes” answers again. See the links for “previous years” on the right side of the main conference page here.
20. Do you happen to have a one-minute video with a musical invitation to attend USCOTS that I could watch and point others to? Yes*! Thanks to the creativity and talents of Larry Lesser and Mary McLellan, please enjoy the video here.
* Wow, what a great question; it’s like you were reading my mind!
21. Please remind me: how can I register? Just follow the link here.