Improving Pre-service Teachers' Data Literacy and Computational Thinking Using Earth Data in Existing Methods Courses

Wednesday 12:20 PT / 1:20 MT / 2:20 CT / 3:20 ET Online


Melissa Zrada, The College of New Jersey
Tiffany Herder, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kristin Hunter-Thomson, Dataspire Education & Evaluation LLC, Rutgers University
Michael Jabot, SUNY College at Fredonia

Computing and data permeate our society, and are critical to understanding our Earth. Data literacy is thus essential as an informed and engaged 21st century citizen, and fundamental to understanding the process of science. Integrating data and computational thinking into K-12 classrooms is critical to engage students in authentic science and NGSS practices. However, such integration requires that teachers are competent and confident in their own skills. Research demonstrates that pre-service teachers do not feel adequately prepared to integrate real-world data practices into their instruction. Often, they lack exposure and depth of experience to build their own confidence in these practices and to prepare to teach them due to time constraints and an overstuffed pre-service curriculum.

To address this gap, we developed a targeted experience to help pre-service teachers build their confidence in collecting and processing data, as well as visualizing and telling stories from Earth data. We embedded our project into existing Methods courses, limited it to four sessions, and connected students with NASA data scientists and professionals. We piloted the project with two universities' pre-service teacher programs, in both face-to-face and virtual classroom environments. Early results indicate that these sessions improved pre-service teachers' data literacy skills and their self-efficacy in teaching with data and visualizations.

In this presentation, participants will hear an overview of the project and gain access to the research- and inquiry-based resources we developed to adapt and use at their home institutions. We will also share our lessons-learned based on the results of our pilot integrations as well as planned next steps.

Integrating data into our science classrooms fosters students' data literacy, computational thinking, critical thinking skills, and lifelong interests in science. To set our students up for future success with Earth data, we need to prepare our teachers today!