Of Note
SU’s new data analytics grant
Daniel Lee, Kaleb Hart ’11 photo; Jonathan Couser, John Tully photo; Cathie Leblanc, Ian Halter photo
Data Analytics at the Forefront
Data literacy is a critical skill for navigating life in the twenty-first century, and the ability to interpret data in order to predict and influence actions is crucial for businesses to make progress. Plymouth State University is helping to equip its students, in all majors, with data analytics skills through a $25,000 grant received from the inaugural Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub Seed Fund Program.

PSU is developing a Data Analytics Learning Community (DALC) and offered an interdisciplinary course during the Spring 2021 semester that blended data analytics with traditional history coursework.

DALC launched in January 2021 with 14 faculty members attending a week-long workshop. Participants learned about data analytics as well as major principles in the science of learning, and how those principles can be applied to the teaching of data analytics content. The workshop focused on helping faculty learn how to integrate data science into their general education courses.

Faculty from various programs explored methodologies and activities they could repurpose for their courses, allowing them to experience the exercises in the same way students would. DALC will also help faculty think about different ways in which data science and analytics can be applied to their unique disciplines, and help expand existing literature on the effectiveness of faculty learning communities in spreading the use of active learning and inquiry-based pedagogies.

“This grant funding will help our faculty and students increase their data literacy skills—not just how to interpret data but why we analyze data and where the numbers come from—across a wide variety of majors,” says Professor of Digital Media and General Education Coordinator Cathie LeBlanc. “Since each of the workshop attendees is committed to including a data science project in at least one of their classes, 350 students will be exposed to data analytics, many of whom are not STEM majors.”

PSU kicked off this commitment with a team-taught, lower-level general education course, which represents the next step in PSU’s implementation of the Integrated Clusters initiative. The blended course, Making Sense of “Madness:” Numbers and Narratives, was taught by Professor Daniel Lee, a data analytics expert who teaches economics, and Teaching Faculty Member Jonathan Couser, a historian.