Skip to main content
Best Bets

Making Numbers Real

Professor who pushes data education wins prestigious award.

Photograph by Marc Hall ’20 MA

Getting middle and high school students excited about data might sound like a challenge. Hollylynne Lee, professor of math and statistics education, doesn’t see it that way. “Data is about interesting problems,” she says. “Get them looking at nutritional data, for instance. And they’re diving in, analyzing nutrition labels. They’re asking questions.”

In February, Lee was awarded the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, one of the nation’s most prestigious education awards. The prize is awarded by Baylor University every other year and comes with a $250,000 prize to recognize exceptional professors who have a record of lasting impact on students. The College of Education will also receive $35,000.

Lee’s “excellence in teaching and research have changed the way mathematics and statistics are taught and understood, and she has made immeasurable impact on tens of thousands of students and educators,” Provost Warwick Arden said when Lee received the award.

Lee started out as a K-12 math teacher, then she “fell in love with thinking about how people learn,” she says. She went to graduate school, where she studied ways to harness new technology to help students. Today she works with aspiring and current middle and high school math teachers and directs the Hub for Innovation and Research in Statistics Education at the Friday Institute, collaborating with other researchers to create materials to help teachers.

The best kind of data science teaching, she says, is “about giving students freedom to explore and ask curious questions.” Making sure students understand data and statistics is more important than ever, she says. “We have to prepare students because so many future jobs are going to require this kind of knowledge. But everyday citizens also need to be reading news, looking at data with a sense of skepticism,” she says, “and asking questions, like, ‘Who compiled it? What are the sources?’” 

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.