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Data Savvy: New Courses to Build Data Literacy

The Washington University Libraries recently launched Data Savvy—a set of online data science courses, meant to complement semester-long courses taught at WashU.

As data science becomes increasingly embedded in disciplines, faculty in higher education find themselves grappling with preparing students with foundational data concepts and skills. The Data Services team in the University Libraries is meeting a growing and critical need to enhance students’ data skills by providing training that complements their curricular learning.

Data Savvy includes a set of four courses in Canvas that are geared toward teaching foundational skills to utilize, evaluate, interpret, and communicate data:

  • Data Literacy Management and Sharing
  • Working with Data
  • Data Visualization
  • Geographic Information Systems

Data Literacy Management and Sharing is a prerequisite course and the others are standalone courses that can be taken by any student enrolled in a course where they have to work with data. Twenty-four students have completed courses so far.

The course design and content were developed by the Data Services team, which includes Moore, Sarah Swanz, Mollie Webb, Bill Winston, and erstwhile GIS Librarian Dorris Scott. The instructional design was assessed and reviewed by Theresa Mastrodonato, head of instruction, subject librarians, and faculty collaborators. The Data Services team worked on all aspects of development, implementation, and assessment of academic outcomes and impact. 

“The Data Savvy course is the result of a dedicated, collaborative effort. Our research showed that this type of instruction is needed, and we are excited to see students make use of the courses to be successful in a class that works with data,” said Moore.