Monday, November 17, 2014

Data Literacy: It's Elementary

The Washington Post has an article this morning (17 November, 2014): "In elementary schools, lessons on data literacy," by IT reporter Mohana Ravindranath. She describes a "growing movement of educators creating lesson plans to teach students to collect and analyze data." One goal is "to derive opinions from measurable, real-world data." Another, is to address the shortage of "managers and analysts who can make decisions based on big data analysis," according to management researcher Michael Chui. The Washington Post article goes on to quote Chui:
“It makes sense for us to be thinking about education, starting in early childhood, about concepts such as the difference between correlation and causation, what it means to have a bias as you think about data, conditional probability. These are things we as humans don’t naturally do . . . these are learned [concepts],” Chui said in an interview. He added that curricula should teach students about the realistic limitations of data sets — extraneous information, or sampling error, for instance.
The article describes students collecting their own data. Third-grade students collect daily temperature data, fifth-grade students record the hours of daylight and relate them to the earth's motions, and even kindergarten children "recording predictions for whether it will be sunny outside the next day, or which foods will decompose fastest, along with the results."

Says one science coordinator at an elementary school, evaluating the effectiveness of these lessons is "ultimately if the kid’s able to have a conversation about it and ask questions about it.”

A great goal for students of all ages. That this is taught and expected of even elementary school students is inspiring.

(On a very minor display note: the introductory graphic to this story is an image of a computer monitor showing results from a school's Science Festival using software from Tuva Labs. Dot plots are displayed showing the arm spans by gender. I wonder about the zoom-in that is shown for one data point. It seems only to extract the same dot plot that's on the screen. That's something to ask a question about!)

1 comment:

jpatel said...

Hey - I am with Tuva Labs, regarding the zoom-in thing - we don't control such a thing, I believe someone might tried to make image more viewable and tried that variation. Though, do check out the platform, you can create different types of visuals and each data point is represented with appropriate element in the graph and its clickable which gives students a way to understand what it represents.

We are adding new types of plots and functions every week and making tool more sophisticated and user friendly along with set of instructional activities around it.

Thanks for taking time to write about Tuva and Data Literacy.