Faculty News

Award is the first of its kind in Macaulay’s history for a critically important project directly addressing teaching and learning.

College students pursuing the sciences, math, and technology fields need strong data science skills to be successful. They build these critical skills when their instructors expose them to a variety of opportunities to use data science in classroom settings.

Unfortunately, instructors face barriers in providing this essential preparation: a knowledge gap between the skills students need and the training that faculty have, curricula that are perceived as overcrowded, confusion over what the key skills are, and a lack of confidence in teaching these skills.

Kelly O'DonnellDr. Kelly O’Donnell (left), Director of Science Forward at Macaulay Honors College, and a multi-institutional team have built the Biological and Environmental Data Education Network to help overcome these barriers and give college instructors the tools and training they need.

The National Science foundation has issued a $499,354 grant to fund the network, which will support the integration of data science skills across introductory biology and environmental science curricula. By specifically focusing on undergraduate instructors teaching introductory courses, the network will be training educators who teach a broad population of students including STEM majors and non-majors, and from groups that are currently underrepresented in the sciences.

“We are looking to build a supportive network of educators who can train a more inclusive population of students in the skills they need to succeed in our data-driven world,” explains Dr. O’Donnell. “These skills are useful not only for the students who will continue on as biology or environmental science majors; everyone can benefit from  having a better understanding of how people use data.”

The Biological and Environmental Data Education Network will develop and deliver data science skills and pedagogy-focused workshops to instructors, develop and disseminate guides for integrating these skills into biology and environmental science courses to instructors and departments, and will foster a collaborative community of educators via a combination of virtual and in-person meetings and asynchronous online interaction and resource sharing.