Why Teach With Data

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

Image Courtesy of Vernier Software

In the Using Data in the Undergraduate Science Classroom workshop report participants identified several reasons for engaging students with data as part of their scientific training.

These include:

  • prepare students to address real world complex problems.
  • develop students' ability to use scientific methods.
  • preparing students to critically evaluate the validity of data or evidence, and their consequent interpretations or conclusions.
  • teach quantitative skills, technical methods, and scientific concepts.
  • increase verbal, written and graphical communication skills.
  • train students in the values and ethics of working with data.
  • motivate learning through student interest in a particular problem or in the specific data.
  • working with data provides students an excellent interactive engagement environment with heads on and hands on opportunities. Science education research suggests that activities are most effective when they are designed to interactively engage students

Specific learning abilities and/or outcomes associated with philosophical or methodological aspects of science may include the ability to:
  • ask scientific questions and state hypotheses.
  • design and conduct scientific investigations.
  • understand and critically evaluate the quality of data.
  • draw conclusions from the data that are logically consistent with the data a integrate prior scientific understanding.
  • understand certainty of conclusions.
  • understand the ethics and process of collecting and interpreting data.

Specific learning abilities and/or outcomes associated with technical and quantitative aspects of science may include:
  • Enhance quantitative analysis and reasoning skills
  • Learn about visual representation and interpretation of data (graphs, maps, and visualizations)
  • Use technology for collecting and manipulating data

For more discussion see NSDL: Using Data in the Classroom