Educating about Statistical Issues in Large Scientific Data Sets

This project investigated the potential opportunities and challenges for educators to incorporate explorations of a variety of large data sets into science, math and, to a lesser extent, social science classes at the secondary level.

Project Evaluator: 
Donna Buonopane
Full Description: 

TERC researchers are collaborating with STEM educators, curriculum/software developers, scientists, social scientists, and statisticians to explore:

  • how large scientific and social scientific data sets could provide a vehicle for secondary students to learn about statistical ideas
  • how developing an understanding of statistics could contribute to learning about the science and social science content
  • the characteristics of curricular supports and software tools that could promote rigorous engagement with statistical ideas among secondary students

The project builds on the increasing availability of a variety of large data sets, and on students’ inherent interest in data sets related to “hot” topics such as the environment and climate change, the human genome, economic justice issues, space exploration, and medical research.

Through reviewing literature and discussing ideas with advisors and colleagues, the project developed several hypotheses about potential affordances for students in working with large data sets. In the final year of the project, we tested several of these hypotheses by developing activities and using interviews and observations of secondary students engaging with these activities to gather evidence of their potential, analyzing and writing about these interviews, presenting this work at conferences, and submitting a paper about this work to a peer-reviewed journal.

Project Materials