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Summary

This RAPID study incorporates a diverse project team to investigate how people interpret media using quantitative data representations (QDRs) of COVID-19 data. Drawing on their respective areas of expertise, the project team will also produce novel QDRs to support individuals in making data-informed decisions regarding their behavior, personal health risk, and the health risk of others. Collectively, the project activities and deliverables will produce a deeper understanding and tangible examples of how STEM education research can be used to improve students’ and citizens’ learning and well-being.

Abstract

This RAPID study incorporates a diverse project team to investigate how people interpret media using quantitative data representations (QDRs) of COVID-19 data. Drawing on their respective areas of expertise, the project team will also produce novel QDRs to support individuals in making data-informed decisions regarding their behavior, personal health risk, and the health risk of others. Using QDRs in productive ways is a central characteristic of a mathematically literate society, which is a society of individuals who can use mathematics to productively problem-solve, critique, and respond to events around them. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of such a society. Yet, extant research has established that students and non-students alike have difficulty making sense of and appropriately using traditional QDRs. Thus, it is likely that media generated COVID-19 QDRs are not sufficiently supporting individuals in assessing the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project responds to this pressing issue by immediately enacting a study, so the project team can investigate individuals’ understandings and decisions during the pandemic. The study includes a multi-phase design-research approach to investigating COVID-19 QDRs through an iterative sequence of task-based clinical interviews. In phase I, the project team will investigate a diverse population to produce differentiated models of participants’ QDR interpretations and juxtapositions of these models that reveal key conceptual categories across participants. In phase II, the project team will apply findings from phase I and STEM education research to create research-based, project-designed QDRs while simultaneously investigating the extent these QDRs better support individuals in understanding the pandemic. In phase III, the project team will enact an active dissemination plan to draw attention to project generated knowledge and products. Reflecting the societal implications of COVID-19, the dissemination plan targets both educational and media communities. Collectively, the project activities and deliverables will produce a deeper understanding and tangible examples of how STEM education research can be used to improve students’ and citizens’ learning and well-being.

Screenshot of one data representation

Intellectual merit

The present project applies, extends, and produces knowledge within and outside of STEM undergraduate education research. The project transforms STEM education research in novel ways to support individuals’ understandings of COVID-19 while providing research insights into those supports. Namely, by conducting the study during an ongoing pandemic, the project produces and applies research knowledge to design and investigate the usefulness of research-based QDRs.

The results of the project will lead to the following outcomes: (1) a knowledge base on individuals’ understandings of media-used COVID-19 QDRs; (2) research-based project-generated COVID-19 QDRs; (3) a knowledge base on individuals’ understanding of project generated COVID-19 QDRs; (4) descriptions of research-based principles (with examples) for designing improved pandemic and epidemic QDRs; and (5) a website resource designed for education, media, and public communities. These outcomes advance the field’s knowledge on how to support undergraduate students (as well as the broader populous) in leveraging important STEM concepts to make data-informed decisions.

Broader impacts

The project will:

  1. Improve STEM education and educator development by clarifying important QDRs and associated concepts to use within STEM undergraduate programs so students are better prepared to use QDRs. By sharing findings with local, state, and national education communities, the project will provide important guidance on how to design QDRs that make STEM concepts more salient to students, so STEM programs can provide more transformative learning experiences.

  2. Increase public scientific and data literacy by actively sharing project findings, QDRs, and guiding QDR-design principles with relevant education and media communities at local, state, and national levels. By working directly with members of education and media communities, the project team will improve project exposure and the QDRs made available for public consumption. This will ensure STEM education research impacts not only students’ educational experiences, but also the general public’s ability to interpret quantitative data in ways that positively influences their lives.

Sponsorship

National Science Foundation
$193,101

Principal Investigator

Cameron O'Neill Byerley

Assistant Professor, Mathematics and Science Education

Co-PIs

Kevin C. Moore

Professor, Mathematics and Science Education

Active Since

July 2020