Key research findings:

  • More than half of students enrolling in early iterations of the project-based course reported receiving more individualized support compared to other courses they had taken and 43.8% felt that the individualized support was more useful than what they had received in other courses.
  • Fully 84.4% of students reported interest in one or more follow-up courses with interest in computer programming being endorsed by the largest number of students (53.1%).
  • Higher rates of under-represented minority (URM) students chose the project-based course over a traditional introductory statistics course.
  • The project-based course also enrolled significantly more females and students with significantly lower math SAT scores compared to introductory computer programming courses.
  • While URM students considered the material on average to be more difficult than non-URM students enrolled in the project-based course, URM students demonstrated similar levels of increased confidence in applied skills and interest in follow up courses compared to non-URM students. They were also found to be twice as likely as non-URM students to report that their interest in conducting research increased.
  • Students enrolled in the project-based course were more likely to show an increase in their interest in pursuing advanced course-work in statistics compared to students enrolled in a traditional statistics course (41.5% compared to 26.6%).
  • The course has been successfully delivered at liberal arts colleges, large state universities, regional college/universities, community colleges, and high schools.
  • While students from liberal arts colleges generally reported more positive course experiences than students from other educational settings, students from regional colleges/universities reported being more likely to have learned more in the project-based course than in other college courses they had taken.
  • Based on an adapted version of the curriculum for high school students, the experience was rated on average as “very rewarding” and the vast majority (70.0%) of students felt that they had accomplished more than they had expected.


Dierker, L., Flaming, K., Cooper, J., Singer-Freeman, K., Germano, K., & Rose, J. (2018). Evaluation impact: A comparison of learning experiences and outcomes of students completing a traditional versus multidisciplinary, project-based introductory statistics course. International Journal of Education, Training and Learning, 2(1), 16-28.

Dierker, L., Robertson Evia, J., Singer-Freeman, K., Woods, K., Zupkus, J., Arnholt, A., Moliski, E.G., Delia Deckard, N. Gallagher, K., Rose, J., (2018), Project-based learning in introductory statistics: Comparing course experiences and predicting positive outcomes for students from diverse educational settings, International Journal of Educational Technology and Learning, 3(2), 52-64. DOI: 10.20448/2003.32.52.64

Dierker, L., Ward, N., Alexander, J., & Donate, E. (2017). Engaging underrepresented high school students in data driven storytelling: An examination of learning experiences and outcomes for a cohort of rising seniors enrolled in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP). Journal of Education and Training Studies, 5(4), 54-63. DOI: 10.11114/jets.v5i4.2187

Cooper, J., & Dierker, L. (2017). Increasing exposure to programming: A comparison of demographic characteristics of students enrolled in introductory computer science programming courses vs. a multidisciplinary data analysis course. International Research in Higher Education, 2(1), 92-100. DOI: 10.5430/irhe.v2n1p92

Dierker, L., Alexander, J., Cooper, J., Selya, A., Rose, J. Dasgupta, N. (2016) Engaging diverse students in statistical inquiry: A comparison of learning experiences and outcomes of under-represented and non-underrepresented students enrolled in a multidisciplinary project-based statistics course, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(1), 1-9.

Dierker, L., Cooper, J., Selya, A., Alexander, J., Rose, J. (2015) Evaluating access: A comparison of demographic and disciplinary characteristics of students enrolled in a traditional introductory statistics course vs. a multidisciplinary, project-based course, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies of Education. 4(1), 22-37.

Dierker L, Kaparakis E, Rose J, Selya A, Beveridge D. Strength in Numbers: A multidisciplinary, project-based approach to introductory statistics education. Journal of Effective Teaching. 2012; 12(2):4-14.