Blog for Leveraging Authentic Data Across STEM Curricula

Posted by: Randy Kochevar on August 25, 2020

When we launched the Oceans of Data Institute at EDC back in 2013, we were responding to a growing need to prepare students to succeed in a world where data – and the ability to effectively make meaning from it – was extending to all aspects of society.


Now, in 2020, we are inundated with data in an unprecedented way. Headlines about infection rates, recovery rates, and death rates from COVID-19 are at the top of every news report, and we talk about “flattening the curve” and wonder whether we’ve achieved “herd immunity” – both fundamentally statistical concepts – constantly. As our presidential election nears, we have already begun the near-daily ritual of reviewing the latest poll numbers, with their disclaimers about sampling structure and margins of error; and the inevitable meta-analyses which combine all available polling data from disparate sources to arrive at a consensus view of the most likely outcomes.


Basic decisions about whether to send our kids to school or keep them home, to fly home for the holidays or to have a winter staycation, to retire early or to give it another 6 months and hope the market gets better, are based on our ability to make meaning from the data – and data analyses – we grapple with each day. The need for citizens with these skills has never been more pronounced than it is today.


But fortunately, for everyone on this panel, this challenge is no longer new. For some, it has been central to a career of educating students in statistics and their application; for others, the focus has been more on integrating these methods into other disciplines like biology, ecology, and social studies. We have all learned lessons about things that work and don’t work for students and for teachers.


So the object of this webinar on Leveraging Authentic Data Across STEM Curricula is not to make the case for how important this work is; rather, it is to share with other researchers, developers, and practitioners the lessons that we have learned in our journey thus far, and to think about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in our field.  We will bring together a panel of educators and researchers to share their experiences and perspectives on the following questions:

  • Many of you have been creating data-driven curriculum materials for some time now. What do you do differently today from when you first started? What have you learned over the years?
    • What have we learned about how students approach and use data?
    • What are the most significant barriers to integrating authentic data into STEM curricula? E.g., What challenges do teachers face in incorporating data into their curriculum?
  • What learning outcomes are we trying to support with data-intensive STEM curricula and how do we measure them?
  • What does it take to make “big data” accessible and useful to students?
  • In the current context of COVID-19, remote learning, etc., what unique opportunities or challenges have arisen related to teaching with authentic data?


These panelists—Chad Dorsey, Suyen Machado, Margo Murphy, Andee Rubin, and myself as moderator—share the goal of creating more opportunities in classrooms for students to work with data, but offer perspectives from different disciplines, including math, science, computer science and data science. Learn more about our work (and others) by watching our playlist and exploring additional videos on the Multiplex.


I very much look forward to having this conversation with all of you.


View playlist related to this theme »