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Жф((444JLLLLLL$;є/Ќp<pS<<44лфSSSn<4<4JPP<<<<JSDSЂѕ<<J4Р$рВэywУPP}ж6DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICAL SCIENCE
LEARNING AND TEACHING STRATEGY
Background
The Department has played a major role in the development of Statistical Science ever since its foundation in 1911 as the Department of Applied Statistics the first such department in the world with Karl Pearson as its head. More than 90 years on, the present staff of the department continue to make important contributions to the advancement of the subject. Their interests cover a wide spectrum, from the foundations of the subject to applications in industry, science and medicine. The Department has 12 full-time teaching staff. The annual intake of undergraduates is around 75 and of taught postgraduates about 15.
The Departments suite of undergraduate degree programmes is found at www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate-degrees/maps/statistical-science/index.shtml. The course-units offered for the specialist BSc in Statistics are also designed to provide the base for all of the other undergraduate combined degree programmes. The broad range of interests of the staff enables the Department to offer a diverse set of courses, covering the core theory and applications.
Programme and course design
The strategy underlying the design of the Departments undergraduate degree programmes is found in the Programme Specifications for these degrees (www.ucl.ac.uk/stats). The main emphasis of the single-subject and combined degree programmes is on methods and applications, with supporting theory given at the appropriate levels. These programmes provide a foundation for students wishing to continue to more advanced statistics courses at MSc level. They are not primarily designed as programmes in mathematical statistics although they include theoretical courses. The combined Mathematics and Statistical Science (MASS) degree programmes provide greater depth in mathematical studies.
The MSc in Statistics is a twelve month programme ( HYPERLINK http://www.ucl.ac.uk/admission/gradbooklets/statisticalscience/taught www.ucl.ac.uk/admission/gradbooklets/statisticalscience/taught/mscstats.html). The degree programme is designed to be accessible to students from a variety of disciplines: in addition to the usual mathematics/statistics graduates, students with first degrees in, for example, Economics, Chemistry, Engineering and Medical Sciences have been admitted. One of the core courses emphasises communication skills and, by suitable choice of optional courses and projects, particular emphasis may be placed on specialist areas of application. Consequently, the MSc provides a grounding for both research and professional employment. The two options in medical statistics and the option in finance were introduced specifically through research interests of the staff.
The Diploma in Statistics is a conversion course taught over one academic year ( HYPERLINK http://www.ucl.ac.uk/admission/gradbooklets/statisticalscience/taught www.ucl.ac.uk/admission/gradbooklets/statisticalscience/taught/diploma.html), which enables graduates to pursue further postgraduate studies (eg a Masters-level programme) or to enter professional employment. Students normally take 8 of the courses available to second and third year undergraduates on the BSc Statistics programme; these comprise core courses, selected according to the students knowledge of statistics, together with appropriate applications courses.
The design of the MSc and all of the undergraduate programmes, except for the combined degree in Economics and Statistics (Econ/Stats), has enabled them to be accredited by the Royal Statistical Society, so that graduates (first/second class BSc/MSci and MSc) will be awarded professional Graduate Statistician status on application to the Society. Econ/Stats and Diploma students are also eligible for this award subject to their having taken a suitable choice of courses.
The Department offers introductory service courses on statistical methods, mainly to first year undergraduates from MAPS and Life Sciences, Economics and Management Studies. In the service courses we do not teach theory or how the subject material fits into the framework of the discipline of Statistics as a whole. In these courses, our aim is for students to appreciate statistical reasoning and ideas, and to apply appropriate basic statistical methods to problems relevant to their main field of study.
Learning and teaching methods
The use of formal lectures as the primary method of communicating information to students allows the lecturer to give perspective to the subject material through emphasis of the main points and their part in the structure of the subject. Teaching staff emphasise to students the importance of students involvement in the learning process by supplementary activity such as self-study, problem solving in assessed and non-assessed coursework and in workshops, and preparation for compulsory group tutorials. Staff encourage students to make full use of their office hours and generally operate an open door policy. Peer Assisted Learning sessions devoted to first and second year core courses are run by second and third year student volunteers for whom training has been provided.
The Department has gradually introduced the use of bound copies of lecture notes for undergraduate courses according to the wishes of individual teaching staff and the appropriateness for the courses taught. The intention is that bound lecture notes should eventually be available for at least the core courses given by the Department. These bound copies provide students with a complete and accurate set of notes and, in lectures, enable students to avoid time-consuming copying from the board with possible transcription errors, and to concentrate on what the lecturer is saying. Some sets of these notes have space to add extra detail, in particular for examples. These notes enable lecturers to concentrate on and emphasise the main points, to skip details that are better left for self-study by the students and, where appropriate, to discuss examples in detail, including further ones not in the bound notes, to provide a variety of activities.
Non-assessed coursework (see 8) refers to sets of exercises, which for many of our courses are provided weekly in order to help students to understand and learn the material being taught. Pressure on human resources, combined with our belief that students should take greater responsibility for assessing their own work, has led to much of the feedback on non-assessed work being given through problem classes and tutorials, with students correcting their own work. However, students are expected to hand in the marked work for monitoring purposes. The resources that we have (ie research assistants/students) for assisting the teaching staff are targeted to provide support for students in workshops, particularly for service teaching (see 12), in preference to routine marking of non-assessed coursework. The policies and procedures we have developed for feedback were formulated by discussion in the DTC meeting of 10/6/98 and a Teaching Workshop on 7/6/99 organised by a member of the Staff Development and Training Unit.
Teaching and learning strategies for intellectual, practical and transferable skills are found in the Programme Specifications for our degrees (www.ucl.ac.uk/stats). The inclusion of computing, management and languages in our undergraduate programmes provides formal opportunities to acquire key skills.
For most of the service courses (see 7), the Department has adopted the strategy of not providing formal lectures. Our aim in these courses is for students to appreciate statistical reasoning and ideas, and to apply appropriate basic statistical methods to problems relevant to their main field of study. Our experience is that the service course students best learn the material by almost simultaneous reading of the examples in the course notes and solving similar problems in the weekly workshops, either individually or by working in groups, with support from the course teachers. Since its introduction in 1999/2000, student reaction to this approach has generally been positive and the good examination results are a measure of its success.
Summary of current strengths
(a) The Departments undergraduate programmes enable it to take students with no previous knowledge of Statistics through to professional careers and postgraduate studies in the field.
(b) The Department can take MSc students with good degrees in a variety of quantitative disciplines but possibly a limited background in Statistics through to academic research and professional careers.
(c) Most of the Departments programmes are accredited by The Royal Statistical Society.
(d) Student involvement in the learning process is encouraged by the range of complementary learning and teaching activities that address a variety of styles of student learning.
(e) Development of transferable skills is an integral part of our degree programmes.
Challenges
To maintain the standard of our degrees in the face of the apparently decreasing mathematical skills of our intake in spite of our raising the entrance requirements to include a grade A in A-level Mathematics (or equivalent qualification).
Subject to 14, to maintain and expand our intake in the face of an apparent decline in demand for the existing undergraduate programmes (except for Econ/Stats).
To see how best to use computer assisted learning (CAL) in terms of
remedial mathematics,
further activity to complement student learning in Statistics,
development of some of our lecture courses through the incorporation of CAL, in particular for the service courses.
How research informs and enhances learning and teaching
The research interests of the teaching staff in the Department are very broad and some staff have joint appointments with other departments. In addition, we have several visiting/honorary professorial appointments and at any time a number of contract research staff, many of whom are often actively involved to some degree in the teaching activities of the Department. As a result, particular areas of strength are:
(a) continual revision of course content, in particular with up-to-date methodology, data analysis or illustrative material,
(b) extra resources, and fields of study, for students doing projects.
Project work is seen as highly beneficial in terms of intended learning outcomes. Although the Department does not have sufficient human resources to provide projects for every final year student, no student wishing to do a project has ever been prevented from doing so. Again, this represents a conscious commitment on behalf of staff in the Department.
How the strategy is designed to promote equal opportunity and widening participation
The undergraduate degree programmes do not assume any previous exposure to probability and statistics. The design of the programmes allows admission of an applicant with evidence of skills in pure mathematics equivalent to those obtained by the traditional A-level or Baccalaureate route.
As indicated in paragraph 4, the design of the MSc programme permits the admission of students from a variety of disciplines, including mature applicants and those wishing to study part-time.
Initiatives to develop teaching and learning
Some recent initiatives to develop teaching and learning are described in paragraphs 9, 10 and 12.
The Department is concerned about the low level of engagement of students in attempting non-assessed coursework (see paragraph 10). The following measures were agreed at a meeting of the DTC on 9/7/03, where it was agreed that for the 2003/4 session, we will apply these suggestions to the first year B91 tutorials and monitor the results.
Encourage students to attempt non-assessed coursework, by marking them as Not Complete for a core course unless they have made a reasonable attempt at a sufficient number (to be decided) of non-assessed exercise sheets for that course. The idea is for students to hand in their non-assessed work to tutors in advance of tutorials; tutors would then record whether a reasonable attempt had been made, before the tutorial itself.
Encourage students to engage with the work set for discussion in tutorials, by requiring students to produce solutions to specific questions on the board during each tutorial. The idea is that each week, groups of 2-3 students are allocated questions to prepare for the following weeks class. During the class, one group of students would be selected to present their solution to one question on the board in, say, 10-15 minutes (thereby leaving the remainder of the class free for the tutor to go through any remaining problems). Different groups will present their solutions each week.
After the first term of year 1, stream students into tutorial groups on the basis of ability, so that tutorials can be targeted more effectively.
Review and development of strategy
This Learning and Teaching Strategy will be reviewed annually at a DTC meeting held shortly after the final examiners meeting. A DTC meeting at this time has been held for many years to discuss matters arising from the years teaching and examinations process. The outcome of the review will be forwarded to the MAPS Faculty for comment.
Relationship with Institutional Learning and Teaching Strategy
Particular items from UCLs Institutional Learning and Teaching Strategy taken up by the Department are:
The use of management studies courses (UCL LTS paragraph 4.11), especially through the SORMS degree;
The introduction of a year abroad programme (UCL LTS paragraph 4.12) starting in 2004/05 (PIQ to be submitted shortly).
Action points for 2003/4
(a) To implement the measures on non-assessed coursework described in paragraph 21.
To review the selection of students for the reasons given in paragraph 15.
To review the provision of remedial mathematics support, including the investigation of available CAL software for this purpose (see paragraphs 14 and 16a).
To review, with Economics, the provision of mathematics courses within our undergraduate programmes, and to review the use of mathematical material in our statistics course units (see paragraph 14).
To review the undergraduate degree programmes (see paragraphs 14 and 16).
Action (a) is to be implemented for the 2003/4 session and reviewed at the end of term 1 to see if it should be continued or extended. Action (b) is under review (DTC minutes 9/7/03) and will be discussed at the next DTC meeting. It is intended to start the reviews in (c), (d) and (e) during the coming session.
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