Building STEM Skills by Integrating Data Literacy and Text Analytics in English Language Arts
Ubiquitous computing and new technologies are infusing fields that have not historically been identified as STEM-related, such as the humanities, with new tools and practices involving data. This data infusion is opening up new opportunities to use data literacy instruction to augment instruction already required for compulsory humanities subjects, such as English language arts. Additionally, the potential for improving students? data literacy through the analysis of textual data is directly relevant to increasing future participation and success in STEM fields and professions. For example, word frequency visualizations and analyses are fundamental text analytics techniques that are at the core of many new language technologies, such as language model-based chatbots, and emerging STEM-related careers, such as data journalism. Text analytics techniques are also changing how language is understood and analyzed by digital humanists, who use such analytics to make patterns and tendencies in language use visible. The next generation workforce needs to be prepared to work with language and text as data. The goal of this project is to develop and research the potential of integrated data literacy and text analytics instruction in middle school English language arts. This integration may make fundamental data literacy practices more accessible for students who are not taking related STEM coursework, provide new resources to help students with reading comprehension, and create new pathways for greater participation in STEM fields and professions.
Through co-design, classroom research, and participatory professional development with practicing English Language Arts teachers, this project will be developing text analytics tools, visualizations, and techniques that are well-suited and tested for use in English Language Arts middle school classrooms. Changes in student understandings related to data literacy and textual literacy as a result of using these new resources will be documented through clinical interviews and analyzed across multiple years of the project. Changes in student awareness and perception of STEM skills and data-intensive careers will also be surveyed and studied across multiple years. In addition to creating new pathways for STEM skill development, a key hypothesis of this project is that the introduction of data literacy activities in English Language Arts can also make text comprehension more accessible for students who are still developing their English language fluency. These data literacy activities provide graphical and visualization resources for recognizing important features of text and language. A majority Hispanic/Latino public school district with almost a third of its student body classified as English Language Learners, is partnering with the university-based research team, will be participating in yearlong teacher professional development activities, and will be providing cycles of feedback and improvement throughout the project. An estimated 3000 public middle school students will be using innovative data literacy integrations in their English language arts classes. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers.