Using Data to Improve Learning and Improve Teaching

Steven A. Ackerman, CIMMS Director, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

Facilitating the use of data in education requires an understanding of data, information and statistics. These three literacies are of course closely related and interdependent. Information literacy requires that an individual (student or teacher) recognize that information is needed and be able to locate and evaluate the needed information. They also have to effectively and efficiently access the information. To be data literate, students must be familiar with a variety of tools for accessing and methods of manipulating data. Statistical literacy requires that a student knows how to use statistics to develop evidence in an argument. They need to demonstrate an ability to assemble data into a summary form, and know what comparisons to make between data sets. Finally, students need to know how to communicate their results. This talk will discuss these concepts and present examples of how data, in the context of information and statistics, is used in the classroom and in ways to improve teaching.

About the speaker: Dr. Ackerman is professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wisconsin/Madison and Director of the UW-NOAA Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMMS). Dr. Ackerman's research interests center on remote sensing the Earth system and he is actively involved in several remote sensing programs. He is the coauthor of three books on meteorology and radiation in the atmosphere. He is a winner of the 2003 Talbot Prize that recognizes excellence in visuals in textbooks and other learning materials and is a recipient of the University of Wisconsin/Madison Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Using Data to Improve Learning and Improve Teaching - PowerPoint presentation (PowerPoint 3.1MB Jun4 09)



Bringing Climate Change to the K-12 Classroom: Approaches at NCAR and Lessons Learned

Roberta Johnson, Education and Outreach Director, UCAR/NCAR, Boulder, Colorado

Since 2001, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has offered professional development on climate change for middle and high school teachers in a variety of formats. Our experience with educators has shown that teachers feel ill-prepared to share the science and implications of climate change research with their students. As a result of the extensive exposure of this topic in the media and the controversy that sometimes surrounds it, teachers are highly motivated to engage in professional development on this subject. Lessons learned over the past eight years include the importance of teacher experience with classroom activities in a professional development context, the benefit of an interdisciplinary approach, the need for local as well as global perspectives on climate change, for real data in a variety of user-friendly formats, and for ongoing teacher support through community. Experience with teachers and students shows the importance of providing physical examples or analogies of real-world systems, in addition to activities based in the virtual world.

About the speaker: Dr. Johnson is a scientist in the High Altitude Observatory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Director of Education and Outreach for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Dr. Johnson's scientific research has focused on the dynamics of the lower thermosphere, but her scientific interests include paleoclimatology and global change issues, solar-terrestrial relations, magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere coupling, and planetary atmospheres. She is the Principal Investigator on the "Windows to the Universe" website project, which is a major NASA-funded education and public outreach initiative in the Earth and space sciences. Dr. Johnson also serves as the Executive Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association.


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