RESOURCE: Fostering Data Literacies (Ithaka S+R)

Ithaka S+R has published, “Fostering Data Literacy: Teaching with Quantitative Data in the Social Sciences,” a qualitative study in which librarians from 20 campuses in the United States conducted 219 interviews with social science faculty, to explore “why and how instructors teach with data, identifies the most important challenges they face,” and to address “how faculty and students utilize relevant campus and external resources.” Key findings include:

  • Career skills are emphasized across the curriculum and are important factors in the software and methods that many instructors teach.
  • Instructors focus on the critical interrogation of quantitative information in introductory classes, while teaching students to conduct their own research and analysis in upper division courses.
  • Teaching students to use analytical software is a hands-on process requiring a significant amount of valuable instructional time, sometimes at the cost of teaching discipline-specific perspectives.
  • Instructors generally avoid asking students to locate data on their own because most students struggle to find appropriate datasets. Even instructors find it difficult to locate datasets of the right size and complexity for use in middle and upper division courses.
  • Faculty rely heavily on teaching assistants and liaison librarians for support when teaching with data. Teaching assistants play a critical role in teaching students to clean data and use software, and librarians help students with data discovery as well as information and data literacy.
  • Both faculty and staff rely more heavily on web tutorials and other informal instructional resources than on workshops and other services offered by campus units to learn new information.

These all offer considerations for digital and data humanities library professionals for their own partnerships in data literacy pedagogy and creating curricular resources.



dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Ruth Carpenter, Emylie Fossell, Danelle Orange, Carla Brooks, Rebecca Saunders, Corinne Guimont, Mimosa Shah, Rebekah Walker, and Gabriella Alderete-Cruz (Editors-at-Large), Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara and Linsey Ford (Editors for the week), Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Pamella Lach, Hillary Richardson, and Rachel Starry (dh+lib Review Editors), and John Russell (Editor in Chief).