graduate curriculum, statistical consulting, communication, technical skills, nontechnical skills, career skills


Graduate level statistics education curricula often emphasize technical instruction in theory and methodology but can fail to provide adequate practical training in applications and collaboration skills. We argue that a statistical collaboration center (“stat lab”) structured in the style of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis (LISA) is an effective mechanism for providing graduate students with necessary training in technical, non-technical, and job-related skills. We summarize the operating structure of LISA, and then provide evidence of its positive impact on students via analyses of a survey completed by 123 collaborators who worked in LISA between 2008–15 while it was housed at Virginia Tech. Students described their work in LISA as having had a positive impact on acquiring technical (94%) and non-technical (95%) statistics skills. Five-sixths (83%) of the students reported that these skills will or have helped them advance in their careers. We call for the integration of stat labs into statistics and data science programs as part of a comprehensive and modern statistics education, and for further research on students’ experience in these labs and the impact on student outcomes.

Author Biographies

THOMAS A. METZGER, The Ohio State University

Assistant Professor of Teaching Practice, Department of Statistics

TONYA R. PRUITT, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

NanoEarth Program Administrator

JESSICA L. ALZEN, University of Colorado Boulder

Research Associate, School of Education

AYELE TAYE GOSHU, Kotebe Metropolitan University

Associate Professor of Statistics, Department of Mathematics

ERIC A. VANCE, University of Colorado Boulder

Associate Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics


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