Building Insights through Observation: Researching Arts-based Methods for Teaching and Learning with Data

This project will use visualizations from an easily accessible tool from NOAA, Science On a Sphere, to help students develop critical thinking skills and practices required to effectively make meaning from authentic scientific data. The project will use arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations to build an understanding of what the data reveal. The project will work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use these data visualizations effectively.

Full Description: 

Innovations in data collection, infrastructure, and visualization play an important role in modern society. Large, complex datasets are accessible to and shared widely with the public. However, students need to learn how to interpret and reason about visualizations of scientific data. This project will use visualizations from an easily accessible tool from NOAA, Science On a Sphere, to help students develop critical thinking skills and practices required to effectively make meaning from authentic scientific data. The project will use arts-based pedagogies for observing, analyzing, and critiquing visual features of data visualizations to build an understanding of what the data reveal. The project will work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use these data visualizations effectively. This project focuses on visual thinking skills that have been found to apply in both science and art: describing, wondering, recognizing uncertainty, and interpreting with evidence.

The project will conduct foundational research to understand the ways in which arts-based instructional methods and geospatial data visualization can be successfully applied by science teachers. The research will examine: (1) the ways in which arts-based instructional methods can be successfully applied by STEM teachers; (2) critical elements in the process of learning and applying these techniques to influence teachers’ content, pedagogical, and technological knowledge; and (3) for which transferable data literacy skills these approaches show most promise with children. This project will use a design-based research framework to develop data literacy teaching approaches in partnership with middle school teachers. The research process will include data about teachers’ development and students’ learning about data literacy. Data to be collected include qualitative and quantitative information from teachers and students.

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