Dr. April Kerby, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Winona State University, has been named as a co-principal investigator on a $600,000, three-year National Science Foundation grant supporting the Motivational Attitudes in Statistics and Data Science (MASDER) project.

With the ever-growing demand for professionals with the necessary skills to turn data into knowledge, statistics and data science have become two of the fastest growing fields worldwide, with a high demand in the U.S. specifically. Understanding students’ attitudes towards these subjects can be crucial for developing effective pedagogies in these areas and inspiring students to pursue a career in these fields.


MASDER will create a family of instruments in both statistics and data science to measure teaching and learning through data collected about students and instructors, in addition to the learning environment.  These instruments, which Kerby hopes will become a “go to” resource for assessing students’ attitudes towards statistics and data science, will be publicly available to instructors and researchers to help inform their teaching and improve those attitudes.


In addition to Dr. Kerby, co-principal investigators for MASDER include Dr. Alana Unfried (California State University – Monterey Bay), Dr. Marjorie Bond (Monmouth College), Dr. Michael Posner (Villanova University), and Dr. Douglas Whitaker (Mt. Saint Vincent University in Canada). Additionally, undergraduate students will work with the principal investigators on sampling, survey validation, customizable reports, and website design.


Kerby looks forward to involving undergraduate students in the project and is excited for what they will be able to contribute as well as gain from the experience. “I hope that students will get to utilize their programming skills to help us create customizable reports which will be available to the instructors who have their students take the survey.”


During her time at Winona State University, Dr. Kerby has helped create the undergraduate Data Science program, one of the first in the Midwest.  Her research has primarily focused on students’ attitudes towards statistics in relation to introducing a “Problem of the Week” into the introductory statistics course and she has published her findings in the Statistics Education Research Journal.