The Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) first installed JMP® Pro in 2014 with the signing of a special licensing agreement that would allow all faculty members and students unlimited access to the statistical discovery software. Although JMP Pro has a wide range of capabilities spanning diverse application areas, its use in teacher training is unique. Since adopting JMP Pro for its classrooms, SIT has organized intensive summer courses for future teachers who will one day teach statistics at junior and senior high schools across Japan. Approximately 80 students and faculty members have participated.
SIT takes a hands-on approach to teaching statistics
Associate Professor Hideyo Makishita of SIT’s College of Engineering is making the rounds in his classroom. Taking a stack of origami paper from a large bag on his desk, Makishita distributes one sheet to each student. "You must fold the paper only twice to find a spot that divides the side equally by three," he says, referencing Haga’s theorems of geometry. Circulating again to dispense pens, Makishita suggests adding dots to demarcate the paper’s divisions. When isosceles triangles appear in the corners of the paper surrounded by the broken and folded lines of an Egyptian triangle (a right triangle wherein the ratio of the three sides is 3:4:5), the point generated by the two triangles is that which divides the side into three equal parts.
"I always tell my students that it is natural for teachers to be able to solve problems, but we need to nurture teachers who also have the ability to inspire students to pursue statistics and math further," says Makishita. Using origami is just one small example of a hands-on approach to statistics.
Makishita, a longtime junior high and senior high school mathematics teacher at the University of Tsukuba, currently focuses on pedagogical methods. Among his interests are teaching practice and guidance, practical training, education theory, probability theory and statistics. He currently teaches at the SIT College of Systems Engineering and Science and the College of Engineering and Design, where his students pursue teaching certificates.
For Makishita, problem solving is a crucial part of any teacher training course. And what better way to think logically about problem solving than with statistics? In fact, the government of Japan has recently made a move to promote statistics education starting as early as junior high school. A member of the editorial committee for high school mathematics textbooks authorized by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Makishita understands the need to provide the next generation of educators with the most current information.
"Students learn to adopt a statistical way of thinking in the first year of junior high school in a course called Utilization of Materials," he says. "Once they reach high school, students learn the basics of descriptive statistics and data analysis, including correlative coefficients and statistical estimation. Since future mathematics teachers will be teaching statistics content, I want students in teacher training courses to have the opportunity to learn statistics themselves." That’s where JMP Pro comes in.