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Distortion of Average Class Size: The Lake Wobegon Effect

by Allen Schwenk

Year of Award: 2007

Award: George Polya

Publication Information: The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 37, (2006), pp. 293-296

Summary: The author uses a variety of techniques to show how colleges and universities can report misleading average class sizes.

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About the Author: Allen Schwenk received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Caltech where he won the E. T. Bell Undergraduate Research Prize.  He earned his Ph.D. degree under Frank Harary at the University of Michigan.  Before coming to Western Michigan University in 1985, he taught at the U. S. Naval Academy for nine years and had visiting positions at Michigan State, the University of Waterloo, and the Office of Naval Research.  He is serving as Editor of Mathematics Magazine  for 2006-2010.  He and his wife Pat have three grown children and three grandchildren.  He enjoys duplicate bridge and bicycling.   In December 2006 in Hawaii he rode half of the bicycle route from the famed Iron Man Triathlon, but no swimming and no marathon.  He maintains that this qualifies him for the title Tinman. 


Subject classification(s): Statistics and Probability
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, October 22, 2008