Workshop Recap: Technology Fellows Curricular Innovations III

Data visualization from Circos, showing the global flow of people in 2005–10.
Data visualization from Circos, showing the global flow of people in 2005–10.

Anthony Graesch focused his presentation on his Introduction to Archaeology class which enrolls about 30-40 students. Assignments in this class position students as primary data collectors. Hands-on research experience provides students with an in-depth understanding of the research process in which archaeologists are involved (similar to Ann Marie Davis’s assignment in History). In this case, students collect data using hominid crania. The work is collaborative, further mimicking archaeological work in the real world, but scaffolded so the project is within reach for introductory students.

After students collect data in Excel, they are instructed to visualize the data using charts or graphs. Through visualizing the data, students look for patterns and use these patterns to defend their arguments. Using Excel as the tool for collecting and visualizing data has the added benefit of teaching students to use software that is heavily used in many companies and industries. Anthony made a point of explaining that he does not teach Excel, rather students must learn how to use the software on their own time using resources such as lynda.com. See examples of student work in Anthony’s presentation.

An additional tool he is exploring for future iterations of the assignment is Circos, a tool that allows for circular visualization of data (see image above). Circos can be used with any data set that describes relationships. If you’re interested, view examples of Circos using datasets related to science, genomics, political science, and business.

Next semester we will hear from the remaining Technology Fellows, Karen Gonzalez Rice (Art History) and Suzuko Knott (German Studies).

 

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