Oceans of Data: What is Needed to Support Students' Learning with Large Scientific Databases? (Collaborative Research: Krumhansl)

This project will address the question: In what ways can research on learning inform the design of interfaces and technology tools to be used by students accessing large scientific data bases? Oceans of Data will (1) conduct a systematic survey of the widely-dispersed research literature and (2) develop and disseminate a knowledge status report, a resource offering guidance for making these large scientific data bases accessible to and usable by high school science classes.

Award Number: 
1020002
Funding Period: 
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 to Friday, August 31, 2012
Full Description: 

This DR K-12 Exploratory Project conducted by Education Development Center, Inc.(EDC) and The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps)will address the question: In what ways can research on learning inform the design of interfaces and technology tools to be used by students accessing large scientific data bases? Expertise about this question is scattered among a variety of disciplines, including: science education research related to geology, climate science, and ecology; mathematics and statistics education research; and educational psychology. Consequently, there is no synthesis of knowledge about how to support precollege students' and teachers' use of large scientific data bases. Oceans of Data will therefore (1) conduct a systematic survey of the widely-dispersed research literature and (2) develop and disseminate a knowledge status report, a resource offering guidance for making these large scientific data bases accessible to and usable by high school science classes. This report will inform the work of three target audiences: (1) large science cyberinfrastructure projects concerned with serving student users; (2) intermediary developers (e.g., publishers, research and development organizations, and software development companies) of digital interfaces and tools that can make cyberinfrastructure data appropriate for use by pre-college learners; and (3) education researchers. Most immediately, the project results will be applied directly to the NSF-funded Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI) cyberinfrastructure project at Scripps.

The project design for developing this resource involves a multi-stage review, coding, and analysis of the literature. The coding protocol framing this effort focuses on categories of data representations (such as maps, graphs, 3D representations, animations and multiple data representations) processes of working with data ( such as finding and selecting data, reading data representations, creating data representations, and pattern recognition) and cross-cutting themes (such as visual perception, spatial perception and visualization, cognitive load, and mental models) Work is being conducted under the aegis of an advisory committee: researchers and technology developers in the above-mentioned domains, expert teachers, and individuals representing the target audiences. Advisors will also evaluate the resulting product, as will an additional cadre of targeted end-users.

The Oceans of Data knowledge status report will present: the literature review results; recommendations for designing effective interfaces and technology tools for students; guidelines, based on tenets of universal design for learning (UDL) for designing software for diverse student populations; and suggested avenues for future research to address identified gaps. The project therefore will enable the bridging of science cyberinfrastructure projects in a number of disciplines with pre-college education. Ultimately, students will have unprecedented opportunities to analyze and draw conclusions from cyberinfrastructure data and, thus, to engage in new modes of data-driven science practice.