Faculty Spotlight: Lynette Hudiburgh

photo of Lynette Hudiburgh

  • lecturer in the Department of Statistics
  • teaches a hybrid classroom/online introductory statistics course, STA 261
  • created CIQS Day, an annual Miami event for high school girls interested in the STEM fields
  • does research on data visualization
  • received the Knox Distinguished Teaching Award in Spring 2017


"I always had a thing for numbers, but I remember struggling with second-year algebra and math analysis in high school. My dad, who was an engineer, would say to me, "You have two trains going in opposite directions, and one leaves 30 minutes before the other. When are they going to reach their destinations?" I would cry in frustration, and he'd tell me to draw a picture, to keep trying. I learned that everybody struggles at times, but what makes a mathematician or a statistician is you don't give up. You persevere, you fight, and eventually the light bulb will come on and you will understand.

"I went to Adams State University in Colorado for my undergraduate math degree. I began my teaching career at an elementary school, and then moved to high school, where I taught math for many years. In fact, I started my high school's program in AP Statistics and just loved it. That was my impetus for getting my master's degree in statistics and applied research at the University of Northern Colorado.

"I like to try new things, so in some ways I've always been an innovator and creator. Besides starting my high school's AP Statistics program, I was the first in my district to work with smartboard technology and to do distance learning in calculus. In my classroom I had students sitting face-to-face, along with students in another classroom 20 miles away interacting with me on camera. I'm always trying to find innovative and interesting ways to engage my students in the content.

"Once I started teaching statistics, I saw how applicable and powerful it was. To me, the idea that you can learn things from a representative sample and make predictions about a population is fascinating. There's a saying, 'statisticians get to play in everyone's backyard,' which is true. The field of statistics is relevant in any field you study. You're always going to need to know something about it!

"Going through all these experiences has made me a better teacher. One of my most important roles is to encourage my students to persevere when the content becomes difficult. I tell them 'everyone struggles at one time or another, to hang in there, keep asking questions, keep fighting the good fight — you can do it!'"


"Here at Miami I teach the intro level statistics course, STA 261, which fulfills a Miami Plan requirement and has an online component. I also collaborate with colleagues in the Department of Information Systems and Analytics in the Farmer School of Business. Together we created an intro business stat course, ISA/STA 125, which I teach as well. Statistics is about working with data to learn about important trends, such as marketing or consumer preference, so it goes hand-in-hand with business. After all, any kind of business decision you make needs good data!

"Learning is not a spectator sport — it's a social activity. The more engaged students are in the learning process, the deeper the learning that will occur. Verbalizing things helps you solidify what you know. Having difficulty putting a concept into words indicates you don't understand the concept as well as you think you do. This is why I want my students to do at least as much talking in class as I do. I purposely make my classes learner-centered, focused on where students are struggling based on their feedback. From day one, I tell them, 'We are all in this together. This is our learning community, so I expect you to speak up, ask questions, and get involved!'

"Teaching is never boring. I love having an opportunity to develop relationships with my students. What's really exciting is when they come back and tell me how they can apply what they learned in my class to another. They also may have their own research projects and ask for advice. There are some who tell me they were terrified to learn statistics, but they realized it wasn't as bad as they thought — and some may even decide to major or minor in it! Having these relationships that extend beyond the classroom is very rewarding."


"A lot of my research is education-based: different methods of teaching as well as looking at ways that encourage women to be involved in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

"When I was first tasked with creating the online course for STA 261, I realized that I'd better do some research. I read several books and took courses to get a certificate from the Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C) in online education. During my coursework I learned about hybrid (also called blended) learning. Hybrid learning is really the best of both worlds, a combination of the face-to-face component along with the online venue. You want to be able to see students so you can read the room and see where they're getting stuck. While a completely online setting might seem cold and make students feel like they're alone, a hybrid environment gives you the flexibility of having great online resources along with more of the human component.

"As I incorporated my hybrid learning research into my own classes of STA 261, I saw an increase in the amount of content students learned, and a decrease in the number of students who dropped or failed the course. Four years ago, we decided to roll it out department wide, and we are still getting positive results. Because the course is well organized, students know exactly what they need to do. Additionally, the added flexibility of the course, as well as the utilization of 'Just in Time Teaching,' has led to a more engaging, student-centered course.

"I also do research on data visualization, a growing field in statistics and data analysis, that enables people to more easily understand a set of data in the form of charts and graphs. Context is key in data visualization, as you must know where the data is coming from and what you're trying to do with it. When you are trying to tell the story behind the data, data visualization allows you to summarize and highlight the salient characteristics of a data set. Working with data visualization not only helps communicate information to others, it also helps to more readily obtain information from visualizations created by others.

"Since the ability to read and interpret data is an important skill for any educated individual, I created a data visualization project for my STA 261 students to complete using data sets of their choosing. In fact, earlier this summer I presented my project at the United States Conference on Teaching Statistics, held at Penn State University.

"A few years ago I created an annual event called CIQS (Careers Involving Quantitative Skills) Day, which is a realization of my passion for helping high school women learn about the many opportunities available to them. Having good number sense, being quantitatively minded, and finding mathematics interesting opens the door to a plethora of opportunities. CIQS Day allows them to see how many different career fields are available for people who possess good quantitative skills. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to work with a doctoral student on this program for a few years, and we presented our model at the Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference in North Carolina last year. It's been really exciting to see CIQS Day grow."

Outside the Classroom

"I was very pleased and honored to be recognized with the Knox Distinguished Teaching Award earlier this year. It's great to reach that level of recognition from both my colleagues and my students — and to me, their acceptance is worth more than any university award.

"Not only do I have such supportive colleagues in my department, but at Miami I'm truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to learn, grow, explore, and innovate as a professional. I don't know if you can find that in many other places!

"On the personal side of things, I'm very much a family person. Even though the majority of my family lives in Colorado, I visit them as often as I can. I'm a very driven person, and what keeps me motivated in my career is always wanting to improve and learn something new.

"I like to run. I'm also very musical — I like to sing and play the cello. I have a dog, and I love to be outside with her and take hikes. Ohio is such a beautiful place with all the natural spaces, and you can't beat the colors in the spring and fall!"

[August 2017]