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Monday, July 23, 2018 - 11:30am

Mercy Psychology Professor Rossi A. Hassad, Ph.D., MPH, CStat was an invited speaker at the prestigious International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS-10) in Kyoto, Japan, on July 13. Invited speakers are selected by the International Program Committee based on expertise and their fit to the theme of each conference.

The conference, hosted every four years by the International Association for Statistical Education (IASE), allows statistics educators and professionals around the world to exchange information, ideas and experiences, as well as to present recent innovation and research in the field of statistics education and to expand their range of collaboration. Though this was Hassad’s fourth ICOTS, it was his first as an invited speaker, presenting his paper, “The Multiple Choice Question: Assessing Statistical Literacy and Critical Thinking in the Introductory Statistics Course at the College Level.”

Co-written by Hassad (the lead author) and Dr. Gerald Iacullo, the study was an analysis of the multiple choice question (MCQ) format and its effectiveness in assessing statistical literacy, and is published as a refereed article in the Conference Proceedings. Hassad was Iacullo’s doctoral mentor and a member of his dissertation committee at Grambling State University, and cited his first co-authorship with Iacullo as an excellent experience.

Hassad noted that the presentation at ICOTS-10 “was well attended and well received; and generated much discussion”.

“The use of the multiple choice question format for assessing statistical literacy is a controversial issue among educators,” Hassad continued, “so they were pleased to hear about an evidence-based model (based on psychometrics) for developing effective multiple choice questions. Statistical literacy emphasizes critical thinking about data rather than the mere recall of facts, formulas, and procedures.”

A member of the American College of Epidemiology as well as a Chartered Statistician (CStat) of the Royal Statistical Society (UK), Hassad, is a professor in Mercy’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Hassad’s participation in the conference this year, as in the past three ICOTS, was made possible by the Mercy College Faculty Travel Fund for Faculty Development and Scholarship Activities, with a higher level of financial support given to faculty presenting at conferences.

In addition to his first year as an invited speaker, this was also Hassad’s first year as session organizer — though he has served as chair in his prior experience — overseeing pre-conference preparation in terms of reviewing the abstracts and determining the fit for a particular topic and working with presenters from different countries (in Hassad’s case, the United Kingdom and Japan). As chair, he also conducted the session during the conference by introducing the speakers, facilitating a discussion, integrating themes across the presentations and providing summary points, he said.

“I am always pleased to see the growing support among educators to make the introductory statistics course more meaningful and palatable for students,” Hassad said of the conference’s impact on him over the years. “In other words, emphasizing concepts and applications over mathematical formulas. Statistics is fast becoming a core requirement for most academic majors, particularly the STEM disciplines, so it is important that we improve our pedagogy toward fostering statistical literacy. I have done some pioneering work in this area by developing the first scale for characterizing the teaching of introductory statistics. … For ICOTS 10, I was particularly impressed by the high number of presentations with empirical evidence, utilizing various scientific research designs.”