Despite its central importance in research, providing opportunities for inquiry with data at the introductory level is limited by numerous challenges that are not easily overcome with traditional pedagogical approaches. Through funding from the National Science Foundation, we have developed curriculum that directly and creatively tackles the most significant challenges faced by introductory students and instructors. The result is a passion-driven, project-based experience that provides greater access to the quantitative research process for large numbers of students and combines new learning materials and innovative teaching strategies for exposing students to a multidisciplinary model of quantitative inquiry. The curriculum provides training in flexible application of knowledge, opportunities to analyze data in real world contexts, and education about quantitative tools through computing. Our approach provides students experience with basic coding through work with SAS, R, Stata, Python or other code based programs. Among those enrolled in the introductory project-based curriculum, although URM students were found to consider the material presented in the course more difficult than non-URM students, URM students demonstrated similar levels of increased confidence in applied skills and interest in follow up courses as non-URM students. Further, URM students were also found to be twice as likely as non-URM students to report that their interest in conducting research increased. Taken together, this model provides students with a unique opportunity to get “hooked” on the power and excitement of quantitative research, regardless of level of preparation, learning style or initial interest.
Cite this work
Researchers should cite this work as follows: