Document Type


Publication Date



Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science


simulation-based curricula, inference, high school students, college students, courses of study


The demands for a statistically literate society are increasing, and the introductory statistics course “Stat 101” remains the primary venue for learning statistics for the majority of high school and undergraduate students. After three decades of very fruitful activity in the areas of pedagogy and assessment, but with comparatively little pressure for rethinking the content of this course, the statistics education community has recently turned its attention to focusing on simulation-based methods, including bootstrapping and permutation tests, to illustrate core concepts of statistical inference within the context of the overall statistical investigative process. This new focus presents an opportunity to address documented shortcomings in the standard Stat 101 course (e.g., seeing the big picture; improving statistical thinking over mere knowledge of procedures).

Our group has developed and implemented one of the first cohesive curricula that (a) emphasizes the core logic of inference using simulation-based methods in an intuitive, cyclical, active-learning pedagogy, and (b) emphasizes the overall process of statistical investigations, from asking questions and collecting data through making inferences and drawing conclusions. Improved conceptual understanding and retention of inference and study design that had been observed when using early versions of the curriculum at a single institution, are now being evaluated at dozens of institutions across the country with thousands of students using the fully integrated, stand-alone version of the curriculum. Encouraging preliminary results continue to be observed.

We are now leveraging the tremendous national momentum and excitement about the approach to greatly expand implementations of simulation-based curricula by offering workshops around the country to diverse sets of faculty, offering numerous online support structures including: a blog, freely available applets, free instructor materials, earning objective-based instructional videos, free instructor-focused training videos, a listserv, and peer-reviewed publications covering both rationale and assessment results. Many hundreds of instructors have been directly impacted by our workshops and hundreds more through access to the free online materials. We are also in the midst of valuating widespread transferability of the approach across diverse institutions, students, and learning environments and deepening our understanding of how students’ attitudes and conceptual understanding develop using this approach through an assessment project involving concept and attitude inventories with over 10,000 students across 200 different instructors.


Source Publication Title

EnFUSE Conference Proceedings


American Association for the Advancement of Science