Digging into Data Science using the Garden Dataset

Contributing author Lisa Lendway has been teaching statistics and data science at Macalester College for the past 4 1/2 years. Before returning to Macalester College (she’s an alum!), Lisa worked as a statistician/data scientist in a variety of industries including retail, healthcare, and insurance. She strives to stay at the forefront of new R technology and to teach her students those skills so they can thrive in the workforce or graduate school. When not nerding out about R, you can probably find Lisa biking with her spouse, spending time with her 9 & 11 year old kids, or tending her large urban garden.

In the summer of 2020, I decided it was time to collect some data from my garden. I did this for two reasons: 

  1. I was curious about how much food I produced.
  2. I wanted to use the data in my Introductory Data Science course at Macalester College.

I knew the data would be fairly simple, and I liked that it would be a bit personal and give a way for me to connect with students. Although I didn’t know it when I started collecting the data, the personal aspect ended up being especially important during the 2020-21 school year when I was teaching remotely.

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Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Statistics Classroom

Contributing author Heather Barker is a lecturer of Mathematics and Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. She teaches statistics courses as well as courses for mathematics education students. Her research interests lie in statistics education, text mining, and diversity/equity/inclusion pedagogy.

Contributing author Kirsten Doehler is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Elon University. Her research interests include statistics education, survival analysis, and diversity/equity/inclusion. For more information, visit her faculty page.

Many colleges and universities have made a strong effort to make their campuses more inclusive to all people, especially those from underrepresented and historically marginalized minority groups. These efforts include faculty incorporating instruction that focuses on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issues in their classroom. Statistics instructors have a unique opportunity to engage students in work around DEI considering there is an abundance of data available today to explore these issues. In this blog post, we share some of the data sets and activities we have used in our undergraduate introductory statistics classes to engage students in conversations around big issues that persist in marginalized groups.

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“You mean we have to write in this class!?”

Contributing author Nicole Dalzell is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Statistics at Wake Forest University.

I often hear variations of this statement at the beginning of each semester. Writing is not something students tend to associate with statistics, nor is it something that most stats faculty members have been formally trained to teach. However, the ability to create and critique written communication involving data and statistics is becoming increasingly important. Students who will be using statistics and data in future careers need to be able to communicate their results and processes to get a job. Other students read statements involving statistics on social media or news sources, and then must decide whether that information is correct or reliable. In this post, I will share an activity that can be used to begin to teach statistical writing.

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