ICOTS8 (2010) Contributed Paper
at home. Involvement of international educational organizations such as IASE may help in making them possible.
Difficulties faced by students can naturally cause them to under-perform. Efforts by the instructor to push them are usually confronted by an attitude of safety in numbers. If almost every one is doing badly, then there is no problem. Bad results are annoying to all. The instructor can not help wondering if the semester's effort was worth while, students are disappointed and the institution will want some explanation. While student's course evaluations are understandably harsh on instructors who think this is student's problem, they are equally harsh on instructors who try to push them to work harder. Student's attitude is understandable when a few instructors are choosing the easy way out. Such a situation easily pushes others towards milder tests and class dependent assessment that mask the learning problems.
Universities in developing countries naturally aspire for international recognition and higher ranking, which is achieved by quality research output. For this reason and following leading research universities around the world, faculty career advancement (promotion) is achieved practically entirely on academic research.
While students have their eyes on grades and naturally push towards getting the best with less effort, instructors have their eyes on their careers. Since efforts in teaching do not contribute to career advancement, less and less time and effort is spent in the teaching arena. This eliminates dedication to teaching since it receives no recognition, and the satisfaction obtained from it is personal rather than institutional. The instructor is thus required to deliver the course material well using lectures, tutorials
and homework single handed. In addition to that he has to cover the course material in time and publish research if aspiring for promotion. Such conflicting requirements on the instructor’s time naturally lead to a situation where instructors spend less time on teaching related activities in favor of research and go easier on students to avoid bad results. The result is a disastrous equilibrium state. The teaching is a lot lighter for the instructor and time is spared for other activities, the students are having it easy and the institution is happy with reported results and better research output.
A POSSIBLE SOLUTION
We reiterate here what was suggested by Abdelbasit (2010). A student learning in a foreign language and trying to understand a specific point gets distracted by lengthy explanations and discouraged by thick textbooks to begin with. Lengthy oral explanations are not helpful either. Concepts and techniques are better explained briefly with the use of many familiar examples and exercises to help students absorb the material by osmosis. A number of statistical concepts are too difficult to understand in a foreign language and are more effectively communicated to the students in their own language. We need textbooks written in English that are brief on explanations and discussions, but contain plenty of examples and exercises from the students own culture. They also need to include good glossaries where technical terms and concepts are explained in the local language. The natural candidates for producing such text books are statisticians at the universities concerned. As mentioned earlier these are overwhelmed by various duties and devoting time and effort to produce such a book locally is an extra burden with little reward, especially when the institution sees no problem and every thing seems to be going fine.
Universities in developing countries generally follow initiatives of leading western universities and projects with international involvement are generally well received. The needed textbooks described above have better chance with international involvement and encouragement, such as the involvement of the IASE. Different versions can be produced for different geographical areas and cultures. The basic material will be the same with examples and exercises varying to some extent from one version to the other and glossaries in local languages. To begin with one book can be written with appendices containing extra local examples and exercises together with a glossary explaining key concepts in the local language. This could lay the foundation for better statistical education in developing countries, help draw international attention to the problem and encourage further work and improvement. The problem may not seem big enough to warrant such
International Association of Statistical Education (IASE)