Data Literacy

Submitted by Jeffrey Dowdy on June 11th, 2018
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Short Description: 

This session was part of an undergraduate, critical thinking and global perspectives course. The course is offered by various disciplines on campus. This instance focused on global challenges (The Seven Revolutions developed by For the session the students applied two frameworks to data: authority is constructed and contextual and scholarship as conversation. Students learned about a data life cycle concept with emphasis on evaluation. One of the main goals in introducing the students to the life cycle of data (see attached) was to broaden their understanding of how to search for data. Students may encounter data via social media or in a magazine article. Often those formats are more accessible and present data in a way that is easier to understand. The exercise helps students to see how data can sometimes be manipulated in those formats, while also developing search techniques to track data to its source.

Slide 2 gives an illustration of the data lifecycleDownloaded 482 times663.82 KB
Learning Outcomes: 

Employ credible resources in studying key global challenges

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

The data literacy session was part of a semester-long, scaffolded research paper on a specific global challenge. Students were encouraged to use data to back up their arguments and research.

Assessment or Criteria for Success
Assessment Short Description: 
One issue with the assignment in its present form: students misunderstood the first question of the assignment (Provide two examples of types of data that inform your research topic). Many interpreted 'types' to mean actual data sets or reports instead of brainstorming about what data could exist. One hurdle students face, as Daniel Russell research scientist for Google would put it, is understanding how search works and what it can do for them. Students must know what questions they can ask. The first question was intended to help them think about what they could ask. This will require more modeling in the introduction.
Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

For future iterations of this topic, I would like for students to evaluate multiple examples of data used in journalistic writing. Both to understand how to write with data and to see how data can be employed to make a point or to support a story.

Suggested Citation: 
Dowdy, Jeffrey. "Data Literacy." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2018.