GenEd Data Science Course Scores National Award

David SchuffDavid Schuff’s Data Science course has not only helped students pinpoint prime scoring positions for the Owls basketball team and identify Al Qaeda’s recruitment hot spots, it has also recently garnered national attention at the 4th Annual Business Intelligence Congress. At the conference, Schuff won the Teradata University Network Innovation in Teaching Award for his paper outlining the course, “Data Science for All: A University-Wide Course in Data Literacy,” in recognition for its innovative course design and unique place in Temple’s general education curriculum.

“This award validates the idea that analytics should be taught to a very broad audience,” said Schuff, Ph.D., professor of Management Information Systems.

Offering Data Science as a gen ed is ahead of the curve, Schuff added, as many universities are only beginning to launch graduate programs in data analytics and have no undergraduate courses.

The course equips students to harness the power of big data and to present data-driven arguments in a compelling manner, through a combination of theory and hands-on learning activities, including lessons on widely available software, such as Tableau and Excel. By the end of the course, students should be comfortable working with and presenting data as well as evaluating its trustworthiness.

Data Science Example“We are basically surrounded by data and our lives are infused by it,” Schuff said. “This course can make you more savvy about the way you navigate the world.”

For Alexander Monsell ’15, a recent graduate of Temple’s theater program, the course helped him to articulate arguments with more certainty.

“It’s…helpful in an industry where so much is based on feeling and emotional response to be able to back things up with hard numbers,” Monsell said. “‘The audience seemed to like the piece’ just isn’t as powerful as ‘90 percent of showings had standing ovations.’”

The course has grown in popularity over the years, with 240 students enrolled in spring 2016 compared to 30 students when the course launched in fall 2015.

After enrolling, Charlotte Myer, a Sophomore majoring in Political Science, saw how data science could apply to her undergraduate research.

“It’s an excellent primer for any kind of data-driven field,” she said. “It helps make the quantifiable more understandable.”

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Elizabeth Hillaker Downs

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