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Elementary-Level Statistics Enrollments Increase

1 November 2012 1,015 views No Comment
Ellen Kirkman and Dalene Stangl

    Every five years since 1965, a comprehensive study of U.S. undergraduate programs in the mathematical sciences has been undertaken by the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), with funding from the National Science Foundation and support from the mathematical sciences professional societies. In 2010, Westat was contracted to implement the survey. A stratified random sample of 600 institutions was selected from the roughly 2,500 that are either public two-year colleges or (public or private) four-year colleges and universities with undergraduate programs in mathematics or statistics. Depending upon their programs, the institutions selected received the survey instrument for undergraduate mathematics programs at four-year colleges and universities, mathematics programs at public two-year colleges, or undergraduate statistics programs at four-year institutions. For the first time, the survey instrument was available both online and in hard copy.

    The CBMS surveys request enrollment data for individual courses and information about majors, curricula, and pedagogy at the surveyed institutions; additional information about faculty is collected by the Annual Survey of the Mathematical Sciences. A report based on the data gathered will be published in the fall of 2012, both online and in a paper monograph. Access to the reports of the 2005, 2000, 1995, and 1990 CBMS surveys can be found here.

    The CBMS surveys have been useful to academic planners and department chairs seeking additional resources from college and university administrators, as well as those seeking funding for further programs in mathematics, science, and technology at the state and national levels. Highlights from the 2010 survey are given below. Seventy statistics departments responded for a response rate of 60%. Results here are for four-year college and university statistics departments during fall 2010, unless otherwise specified.


    Elementary-level statistics enrollments in fall 2010 exceeded the levels of fall 2005 by 50%, rising from 54,000 to 81,000. These enrollments were about 65% larger than in fall 1995. In 2010, the enrollment in elementary-level statistics for statistics departments was about one-third the enrollments in mathematics departments (231,000) and about three-fifths the enrollments in two-year college mathematics programs (137,000).

    Upper-level statistics enrollments increased about 13% to 27,000 between 2005 and 2010, and were about 69% above the 1995 level. Enrollments in upper-level courses are more closely balanced between statistics and mathematics departments (27,000 vs. 32,000) than for elementary-level statistics.

    Of the freshmen entering in fall 2010, 13,000 had advanced placement (AP) credit for elementary statistics.

    Bachelor’s Degrees Granted

    The total number of bachelor’s degrees in statistics awarded through the nation’s mathematics and statistics departments between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, was 1,192—354 were awarded in mathematics departments, 838 in statistics departments.

    Forty-two percent of bachelor’s degrees in statistics were awarded to women, 42% of those in statistics departments and 37% in mathematics departments.

    Appointment Type of Instructors

    The percentage of undergraduate sections in statistics departments of four-year colleges and universities taught by tenured, tenure-eligible, or permanent faculty increased between fall 2005 and fall 2010 from 47% to 49%.

    Pedagogical Methods Used

    Methods of teaching elementary/introductory statistics in mathematics and statistics departments shows greater use of real data and technology in courses taught in statistics departments and slightly greater use of additional assignments (e.g., projects, oral presentations, or written reports) in mathematics departments.

    Number of Faculty

    In statistics departments with doctoral programs (which were the only statistics departments whose faculty demographics were gathered in 2005), the total number of full-time plus part-time statistics faculty increased 5% from 2005, while the number of full-time doctoral-level statistics faculty increased 6% from 2005. Doctoral statistics department enrollments have more than doubled since 1995, but are up only 11% from fall 2000.

    The number of part-time statistics faculty at doctoral statistics departments decreased 6% from 2005.

    In doctoral-level statistics departments, from 2005 to 2010, the total number of tenured plus tenure-eligible statistics faculty grew very slightly, and the number of other full-time statistics faculty increased by 32%.

    Gender and Ethnicity

    In doctoral statistics departments in fall 2010, women were 26% of all full-time faculty, 16% of tenured faculty, and 40% of tenure-eligible faculty. All these percentages are larger than in 2005.

    Very little change in the distribution of ethnicities of mathematics and statistics departments faculty in four-year colleges and universities occurred between fall 2010 and fall 2005. Statistics departments (master’s-level and doctoral-level combined) showed white male full-time faculty dropping from 55% to 48.8% and some gains in the percentage of Asian faculty. The percentages of black and Hispanic faculty remain small in both mathematics and statistics departments.

    Drafts of the full report may be found here. The final and earlier versions can be found here.

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