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Member Feedback Sparks Initiatives

1 May 2023 999 views No Comment

Charged to promote and preserve membership in the association, the ASA Committee on Membership Retention and Recruitment works on initiatives in this vein. Several such initiatives are underway: focus groups to understand qualitatively the current membership experience; networking opportunities; and efforts to reinstate a fun tradition at the Joint Statistical Meetings.

Focus Groups

To pursue the committee’s charge, committee members work to foster a vibrant community in which everyone feels welcome and included. Building community is a process that requires collaboration, so committee members work with chapters, sections, other committees, and individuals to understand the needs of our members and how, working together, we can meet those needs.

To help us understand what is important to the ASA community, we spent part of 2021 and 2022 conducting research with focus groups of current and former members. We wanted to learn what was working and what was missing. After reading recorded transcripts, comments, and suggestions from those who participated, we came away with the following key learnings:

  • Making connections with other members is critical. Individuals from each focus group discussed the importance of making connections with other ASA members. They noted it is challenging at all stages of membership and intentional focus on networking opportunities is needed. We need to be sure to identify opportunities so all members (e.g., industry, government) have a sense of belonging.
  • There is a lack of awareness of existing opportunities within the ASA. There were suggestions for how to target specific groups with specific activities. Members are individuals who might have different needs. There were suggestions to provide additional resources to sections and chapters to help raise awareness of the opportunities the ASA provides for its members.
  • Communication is challenging. This is related to the previous item but focuses on how we communicate. Is email the best way to communicate with members? What more can we do with social media platforms? Different demographics favor different methods of communication, so we need to employ a variety of methods. Our takeaway was that identifying the best method and messaging depends on the audience.
  • We need to increase our effort to promote data science. The field of data science is exciting and exploding. The ASA should play a larger role in it and provide guidance to those who are interested in it.
  • ASA perspective on advocacy: While recognizing members will have diverse perspectives on any issue, participants agreed it was important that the ASA represent the profession. It was also expressed that it’s important the board’s process for making advocacy-related decisions be sound and transparent.
  • Mentoring is critical at all stages. Participants appreciate the efforts of the various mentoring programs. This is an area for growth.
  • The value of journals: Access to journals was acknowledged as a significant member benefit.
  • Participation in conferences: The opportunity to participate was identified as essential to both gain knowledge and build professional networks. We need to be creative about opportunities for participation.
  • Appreciation of the ASA and the value it brings to its members: Participants acknowledged that having a professional community was essential to their success.

Our data was qualitative, so consider the results as qualitative summaries of a nonrandom sample with bias in the interpretation. They should not be viewed as a comprehensive summary of the entire membership population. Nevertheless, we do find the information useful and think the committee and broader community can use what we learned to help increase membership value.

To find participants for the focus groups, we developed an interest form, which was shared via email with all ASA members. A follow-up invitation went out in Member News. We sent invitations to participants with the goal of forming groups representative of employment sector, length of membership, race, gender, chapter participation, and section participation.

Each focus group session lasted an hour with facilitated discussion about different aspects of ASA membership. We also collected information from those who were not able to participate in the focus group sessions through an online form. We conducted nine focus group sessions, including a pilot with members identified by the Council of Chapters Governing Board, ASA GivesBack Leadership Team, and one committee from the Membership Council.

Each session took on a life of its own, depending on the direction the participants took it. By using the same set of questions, we attempted to consistently address areas of interest. The questions were selected from the following as time permitted:

  • What do you “like” about ASA?  What don’t you like about it?
  • What aspects of your professional life are you finding challenging (and how can ASA help)?
  • How can we improve the value of ASA membership?
  • Tell us about your involvement in ASA sponsored meetings.
  • How important is ASA to your professional networking?
  • How important is membership in ASA versus other statistical organizations?
  • What journals and ASA-sponsored meetings do you find most useful?
  • How could the ASA improve its communication with you?

Networking in a Box

The committee recently released Networking in a Box. Inspired by the success of DataFest in a Box, Networking in a Box is a document describing how to host a successful networking event for the statistics and data science communities.

The information guide contains several sections, starting with the ASA Code of Conduct. Considering how important students are to the future of the ASA and the immense success of student chapters, a section is dedicated to events catering to such an audience. The Rules of Thumb section provides helpful insights and brings up the Committee on Membership Retention and Recruitment Speakers Bureau.

The guide walks you through setting up and conducting a successful event from start to finish. It instructs on how to recruit, how to build connections on social media, how to participate in ice-breakers and activities, and how to follow up.

Committee members encourage suggestions for improving Networking in a Box and look forward to hearing feedback from events held using the guidance.

Stat Bowl

  • What is your degrees of freedom of the t-test?
  • What comes before: __________________ Smirnov test?
  • Who was the first ASA president?
  • In which year was the ASA established?

Know all the answers? Want to test your knowledge? In the 2000s and early 2010s, the ASA Stat Bowl at JSM was a fun-filled and exciting event for students. It offered a nail-biting trivia competition covering the history of statistics, the ASA, and statistical methodology.

The Stat Bowl has not been part of JSM in recent years, but Committee on Membership Retention and Recruitment members are working hard to bring it back.

Are you interested? Want to be a contestant? Want to help organize? Want to sponsor? Reach out to a committee member.

2022 Committee on Member Retention and Recruitment

Theresa Utlaut Chair (2021–2022); Member (2020–2022)
Erin Wiley Vice Chair (2020–2023); Member (2018–2023)
Mark Otto Membership Vice Chair (2017–2022)
Yingwen Dong Member (2021–2023)
Will Eagan Member (2020–2025)
Ann Marie Matheny Member (2022–2024)
Anindya Roy Member (2020–2022)
Sourav Santra Member (2022–2024)
Mark Ward Member (2017–2023)
Amy Farris Staff Liaison (2002–2025)
Kim Gilliam Staff Liaison (2019–2030)
Donna LaLonde Staff Liaison (2015–2025)

2023 Committee on Member Retention and Recruitment

Will Eagan Chair (2023); Member (2020–2025)
Yingwen Dong Vice Chair (2023), Member (2021–2023)
Elizabeth Mannshardt Membership Vice Chair (2023–2025)
Su Chen Member (2023–2025)
Ann Marie Matheny Member (2022–2024)
Sourav Santra Member (2022–2024)
Mark Ward Member (2017–2023)
John Watts Member (2023–2025)
Erin Wiley Member (2018–2023)
Cong Ye Member (2023–2025)
Amy Farris Staff Liaison (2002–2025)
Kim Gilliam Staff Liaison (2019–2030)
Donna LaLonde Staff Liaison (2015–2025)

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