After many years of teaching student research skills and senior project seminars it has become apparent that the math and science connection is not always obvious to students. How science standards address and incorporate mathematics can make a difference in how easily students develop quantitative habits of mind that will enable them to appreciate the benchwork of a scientific investigation as much as the data that is generated. As a result, the Next Generation Science Standards has attempted to build in explicit steps for learning communities to take to include mathematics and to help ensure students receive a coherent education in the two mutually supportive content areas of math and science. Data talks enable students train or exercise their analytical muscle and to determine how to blend computation and calculations as a part of quantitative analysis with the observations of qualitative analysis of which they are extremely familiar.
“Mathematics is the bedrock of science, engineering and technology it is the ability to quantitatively describe and measure objects, events, and processes that make science so powerful in extending human knowledge. Moreover, because of the rapid and almost unimaginable increase in the power of computers, advances in science now depend routinely on techniques of mathematical models.”(2012, NGSS)
The use of our Data Talk Rubric offers additional support for infusing mathematical analysis and computation skills into our science lessons. Students are encouraged to self- and peer-evaluate their data talks with the use of the rubric!
Students require additional practice and support in the effective practice of analyzing data! Although analyzing data generated from student-driven lab investigations is the gold standard, I have found that the use of known or established data in the form of infographics, graphs, data tables, and charts presents a low cost, high return answer to the my need to provide a greater number of these experiences to my students.
The sample Data Talk Prompt explored the consequences of the increase in Antibiotic Resistance and the effect this trend is having on the global biomedical community. Data Talk Graphic #1 provides information about the correlation between increase resistance and the cost of treatment and Data Talk Graphic #2 displays the trend of increased hospitalizations due to an increase in antibiotic resistant strains of the bacterium, C.diff.
Both sample responses from Student A and Student B are proficient in the correct identification of the trends being illustrated however both responses could have benefited from a greater use of data and evidence to substantiate and support the claims being made. This is a common omission for students and thus has earned a special place on our Data Talk Rubric!