We are surrounded by data. When you read, watch, or listen to the news, you are presented with the conclusions drawn from data someone else has collected. And they’ve collected that data to understand something, argue a position, make a point, or persuade the listeners to adopt a particular view. It’s important to realize that everyone has an agenda of some sort, and being more data literate helps you understand if others are making a fair argument.
Data literacy is an important skill to develop in students, and science classrooms are a good place to do that because data collection and interpretation are part of the science curriculum in most jurisdictions. What authors Michael Bowen and Anthony Bartley realize is that the “challenge in encouraging teachers to do inquiry investigations exists in part because of aspects of data collection, analysis, synthesis, and presentation that teachers of science often just do not know.”
The authors developed Basic Data Literacy: Helping Your Students (And You!) Make Sense of Data after years of presenting workshops at NSTA conferences on this very subject. This book is designed to help teachers and students make sense of data in ways that are conceptually grounded in hands-on practices and reflect how scientists use and present data.
The examples included relate to classrooms and the types of data collection activities that teachers have students do. As every teacher understands, supporting students who are doing laboratory investigations of the student-directed and open-ended type is a considerable challenge and can require a lot more background knowledge than undergraduate teaching programs often provide.
Learning about how to analyze and make better sense of data also helps you learn the best way to collect data. And learning how to collect, summarize, and analyze data is a very important skill, central to the newly released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
This book is also available as an e-book.