August 9, 2021

EDC and Nurture Nature Center to Lead Research on Using Art and Data Viz to Build Data Literacy

EDC and its lead partner the Nurture Nature Center have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to create and study a new model for training teachers to use art instruction and data visualization to help students learn how to use visual evidence to interpret data.

Building Insights through Observation: Researching Arts-Based Methods for Teaching and Learning with Data will use visualizations from the free mobile app SOS Explorer. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the app provides access to visualizations of over 120 data sets provided by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), NOAA, and other research institutions.

Over the next four years, the team will design and test strategies to support middle school teachers in using arts-based instruction to build students’ close observation and critical thinking skills. A key objective is to increase teachers’ comfort with using complex scientific data visualizations and encourage them to use data and arts-based instruction throughout their curricula.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Nurture Nature Center and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder on this project,” EDC co-principal investigator Amy Busey said. “We think teachers and students will find data more approachable by using this arts-based approach to analyzing data visualizations, and we’re excited to test this hypothesis.”

In addition to the new teacher training model, the project will conduct foundational research on the ways in which STEM teachers can successfully apply arts-based instructional methods. The team hopes to identify the critical elements of successfully learning and applying these techniques that influence teachers’ content, pedagogical, and technological knowledge. The team will also study which arts-based data literacy instructional methods show the most promise with students.  

“This project will add to our understanding of how to enhance teachers’ and students’ data literacy skills and comfort with data,” said Randy Kochevar, EDC’s Oceans of Data Institute director and study co-PI. “In this age of big data, understanding and thinking critically about data is a vital skill.”