EMU professor Daniel Showalter likes to start off the semester with a challenge for his students.
If any student in his class can find a topic they care about that he can’t apply to statistics, they win a clean, crisp $100 bill.
“It’s always fun,” Showalter said. “Students will write to me about something or another and I’ll show them some research paper that has been done related to that.”
To date, nobody has won his challenge, and there’s a good chance nobody ever will. It just goes to show how applicable statistics is to the world around us and to everyone in it. “Statistics is one of those areas that connects to every part of our life like faith, relationships, justice, mental health,” he said.
Whether it’s applying a statistical lens to childhood poverty, to racial discrimination in hiring or to the educational quality in rural school districts, Showalter strives to help his students connect with and care about statistics in a way that isn’t just about numbers and formulas. His class shows them how statistics can be used as a perspective to improve the quality of life and change the world.
Meeting his heroes
Now in his ninth year at EMU, Showalter, the program director for mathematics and computer science, is the recipient for next year’s Robert V. Hogg Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Statistics.