Data provide the hard facts to explain anything, from a cat’s behavior on catnip to election dynamics to how climate change will affect a given region. While data provides a way to explore the natural environment, it can be manipulated and misused. Emma Slayton and Hannah Gunderman created a course at Carnegie Mellon University to help students distinguish between the truth and lies that lurk in the numbers. 

“There was a need crying out for data-management-analysis skills training, and the library is the key place to offer assistance in those areas,” said Slayton, the data curation, visualization, and Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist at CMU Libraries. “We created a course that engages students in the process of [questioning] how data is depicted so they have a sense of power and play as they interact with data throughout their lives.”

“Discovering the Data Universe” is offered through the Department of Statistics and Data Science in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The course was designed to challenge students with thought-provoking questions not only about data management but also how data is collected and used.

During the course, students evaluate the source of data and learn to interpret and explain data, while keeping an eye open for how numbers can be manipulated. They accomplish these objectives through hands-on projects. Students work with data and present their findings to their peers during presentations at the end of the course.

Read the rest of this story on the Dietrich College site.

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