Using Data-Centric Resources and Pedagogies in Introductory Statistics Courses (StatPREP)

Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer
Senior Director for Programs
Mathematical Association of America

Need: The 2016 report A Common Vision for Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Programs in 2025 (Saxe & Braddy) included a challenge for the mathematics and statistics community to close the ever-widening gap between traditional higher education introductory statistics courses and the data-driven workplace that college graduates enter. The StatPREP project originated as a mechanism for addressing this issue. Specifically, StatPREP has cultivated and encouraged the use of data-centered methods and pedagogies in undergraduate introductory statistics courses by (1) offering a multi-faceted professional development program for mathematics instructors, at two-year and four-year institutions, who teach introductory statistics; (2) establishing communities of practice to support for these instructors; and (3) establishing a national online support network comprising instructors who teach introductory statistics and statistics education experts.Guiding Questions: StatPREP’s goal has been to stimulate community transformation by increasing faculty capacity to enact curricular change by incorporating statistical analysis software and computing technology, complex data, open-ended investigations, and statistical thinking into their existing courses. Parallel to the intervention and implementation work, the project seeks to address the following questions: (1) How effective is this professional development model in prompting changes in participants’ beliefs about statistics education, resulting in changes in content and instructional practices? (2) How accessible is this model for faculty members at two-year institutions? (3) Does this prompt the formation of sustainable communities of practice and national network? (4) What are the benefits and barriers related to faculty participation in a national online network? Outcomes: The StatPREP project has featured significant engagement with both two-year and four-year Introductory Statistics instructors. This has occurred through in-person and online summer workshops, in-semester webinars, cultivation of an online discussion platform, a monthly e-newsletter, and development of Little Apps, a set of interactive web-based tools for data-centric teaching and learning of statistical concepts. Through the use of the MAAConnect platform, all resources created during this project will remain accessible after the project ends. In addition, the StatPREP team intends to compile a book of resources and findings from the project, to be published and available as an MAA Notes volume. Broader Impacts: For three summers, StatPREP workshops were offered on location at regional “hubs,” with each workshop supporting 20-30 faculty participants. These workshops engaged a total of 49 faculty participants in 2017, 84 participants in 2018, and 120 participants in 2019. In 2020, the pandemic forced all StatPREP workshops to be canceled. In 2021, StatPREP held 8 online summer workshops, with a total of 405 attendees. Additionally, StatPREP has regularly offered webinars and community support through online discussion platforms. Through engagement with hundreds of faculty members, the StatPREP project has impacted thousands of students. StatPREP is the first national program to help instructors learn to present and interpret large and complex data sets. Because of the wide range of disciplines represented in undergraduate Intro to Statistics courses, including many non-STEM students, the data-centric approach can ultimately impact the workplace in many different career pathways.


Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer, Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DC; to my knowledge, other project PIs will not be present at the Summit