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Lisa Werwinski and Doug Noe

No statistical tricks, just good teaching

Teaching statistics in new ways

A team of faculty from Miami’s department of statistics redesigned its STA 261 course as part of the university’s TOP 25 Project. The project introduces new teaching innovations into courses with the largest enrollments to maximize their learning effectiveness.

Doug Noe, a member of the statistics team, said his team studied student and client department feedback that claimed inconsistency with material and varying standards and experiences.

The team revised the lecture structure, changing from 4-day-a-week small classes to three-day-a-week large lectures with two-day-a-week lab sessions. Faculty collaborated on content to work toward consistency. The lab breakout sessions are small enough in size to allow students to receive one-on-one help.

Of course, larger lectures do pose challenges, but faculty members worked to devise weekly quizzes and other strategies to make sure students stay on track.

“One thing TOP 25 taught us is to continue evolving the class to be more efficient and more effective,” Noe said.

Doug Noe
Doug Noe

That Doug Noe would become a teacher factored high on the probability charts, but that he would receive Miami University’s Associated Student Government’s Professor of the Year simply stunned the statistics professor who did not predict that outcome.

Entering his eighth year in Miami’s department of statistics, Noe recently received promotion to associate professor and tenure — a major milestone in his teaching career that took root in elementary school.

“I remember thinking in the first grade that I wanted to be a teacher. Teaching continued to interest me through junior high, high school and then college. I felt like I had an aptitude for all things academic.”

Humbled by the ASG recognition, Noe (pronounced Noey) said the reason he entered graduate school was really for the teaching. Research interested him, but teaching drew out the passion in him.

Lisa Werwinski, who nominated Noe for the award, recalls when he emailed students apologizing for a recent lecture calling it “a mess.” He then retaught the lesson the next day.

“He’s the kind of professor who doesn’t make up an answer just to make himself look smart,” she said. “He wants you to be able to think and challenge him as well. One of my best days at Miami happened when I asked him a question, and he didn’t know the answer. He’s human. He is an actual person.”

Werwinski nominated Noe because he consistently finds the balance between challenging his students, encouraging them and not throwing them into the deep end to see if they sink or swim.

A varsity diver, she appreciates his willingness to help at all hours of the day, whether in his office or through email, even if it meant changing his course schedules for a semester.

In fact, he did just that to help Werwinski not only finish her undergraduate education, but simultaneously work toward her master’s degree. She will graduate in December with an undergraduate degree in math education and a master’s degree in statistics, just 4.5 years after she entered Miami as a freshman.

“Noe enabled me to complete my degrees, and he paved the way for future students,” she said.

Her incredible drive to get the work done stands out for Noe.  Other students stand out as well, especially those who struggle.

“They work with me week after week, and then one day it all fits together. It’s rewarding to see those successes when difficult concepts finally click. Their hard work paid off, and that light bulb goes on. Very fun.”

Noe doesn't claim to know any “teaching tricks,” but he tries to find that “something” that speaks to his students. He brings the practical into his courses emphasizing how statistics can help in many fields from baseball to zoology.  A big baseball fan, one of his research areas is data mining and looking at applications of statistical methods, particularly in the sports world where statistics can impact team rosters and other strategic decisions. 

“It’s about quantitative literacy and understanding how to be critical consumers of data. I tell all my students, if they learn anything, it is the idea that the way in which data are generated and gathered determines what you glean from them.”

No tricks. That is what he said to Werwinski and her fellow graduate students as they sat for their comprehensive exam last August. “No tricks. You can do this.”

Written by Carole Johnson, University Communications and Marketing

Published June 2013

Teaching statistics in new ways

A team of faculty from Miami’s department of statistics redesigned its STA 261 course as part of the university’s TOP 25 Project. The project introduces new teaching innovations into courses with the largest enrollments to maximize their learning effectiveness.

Doug Noe, a member of the statistics team, said his team studied student and client department feedback that claimed inconsistency with material and varying standards and experiences.

The team revised the lecture structure, changing from 4-day-a-week small classes to three-day-a-week large lectures with two-day-a-week lab sessions. Faculty collaborated on content to work toward consistency. The lab breakout sessions are small enough in size to allow students to receive one-on-one help.

Of course, larger lectures do pose challenges, but faculty members worked to devise weekly quizzes and other strategies to make sure students stay on track.

“One thing TOP 25 taught us is to continue evolving the class to be more efficient and more effective,” Noe said.

Locations
Luxembourg
West Chester
Middletown
Hamilton
Oxford
  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg

    John E. Dolibois European Center, Luxembourg

    One of Miami's oldest continuous study abroad programs, the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg offers students the opportunity to enroll in Miami classes taught by European-based and Ohio-based Miami faculty. Students enjoy a unique combination of first-class academics, engagement in the local community, and various faculty-guided and independent travel opportunities.

    Contact and emergency information for the Luxembourg Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    Château de Differdange
    1, Impasse du Château
    L-4524 Differdange
    Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
    luxembourg@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/luxembourg

    217-222 MacMillan Hall
    531 E. Spring Street
    Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA

    Directions

    Main Operator: 011-352-582222-1
    Oxford-based Coordinator: 513-529-5050
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • West Chester
    West Chester

    Voice of America Learning Center

    Located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton along I-75, the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) offers undergraduate and graduate courses and programs drawn from Miami's Regional and Oxford campuses. Home to Miami's MBA program, the Learning Center provides ready access to graduate programs for area educators and courses leading to the BIS degree for undergraduates.

    Contact and emergency information for the Voice of America Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    7847 VOA Park Dr.
    (Corner of VOA Park Dr. and Cox Rd.)
    West Chester, OH 45069
     
    voalc@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/voalc

    Printable Floor Plan
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-895-8862
    (From Middletown) 513-217-8862
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Middletown
    Middletown

    Middletown Regional Campus

    Nestled on 141 acres near I-75, Miami University Middletown offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Nearby Greentree Health Science Academy immerses Miami's nursing and health information technology students in the health care experience while taking classes.

    Contact and emergency information for the Middletown Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

     4200 N. University Blvd.
    Middletown, OH 45042
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-727-3200
    (Toll-free) 1-86-MIAMI-MID
    Office of Admission: 513-727-3216
    Campus Status Line: 513-727-3477
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Hamilton
    Hamilton

    Hamilton Regional Campus

    A compact, friendly, commuter campus, Miami Hamilton offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Small class sizes, on-site child care, and flexible scheduling make Miami Hamilton attractive to students at all stages of life and career.

    Contact and emergency information for the Hamilton Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    1601 University Blvd.
    Hamilton, OH 45011
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-785-3000
    Office of Admission: 513-785-3111
    Campus Status Line: 513-785-3077
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Oxford
    Oxford

    Miami University, Oxford Ohio

    Nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding undergraduate institutions, Miami University is a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. With a student body of 16,000, Miami effectively combines a wide range of strong academic programs with faculty who love to teach and the personal attention ordinarily found only at much smaller institutions.

    Contact and emergency information for the Oxford Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    501 E. High St.
    Oxford, OH 45056

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-529-1809
    Office of Admission: 513-529-2531
    Vine Hotline: 513-529-6400
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency