Alternative Introductions to Applied Statistics for Mathematics Students

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At many colleges a typical mathematics student's introduction to the field of statistics consists of the standard two semester sequence in Probability and Statistics. Indeed, at many smaller colleges, there are the only courses in statistics available for credit towards a math major. A group of statistics educators, with support from the Sloan Foundation's New Liberal Arts Program, has been investigating alternatives to this approach. Our goal is to capture the interest of mathematically talented students and encourage them to pursue further work in statistics. We believe that this goal can be addressed by developing an applied statistics course which exposes students more quickly to the joys of data analysis, emphasizes the applications of statistics, and utilizes their ability/interest in mathematics. The need for such an alternative course, potential pitfalls in its development, and several specific models for its implementation will be discussed.