UWF Department of Government to develop grant-funded data analytics lab
The UWF Department of Government has been issued a grant to pilot “A Data Analytics Lab Promoting Job Readiness and Skill-Building Beyond STEM Through Hands-On Active Learning Experiences.”
Awarded funds, in the amount of $280,000, are part of Technology Fee revenues intended for instructional technology enhancements of unit-wide or university-wide scope. The Department of Government will pilot the lab for two years. As it is developed, its use will open to the entire UWF community.
“The lab experience is vital to students in majors of Political Science, Pre-Law and International Studies where critical thinking, analysis and informed policy development prove central to what we want our students to be able to do,” said Dr. Michelle Williams, UWF professor and chair of the department of government.
According to Williams, the data lab experience is a common part of curriculum at other universities. UWF students need to be able to practice concept mapping, developing logic or rationales, building causal arguments and working with data in a lab setting to be competitive.
The Data Analytics Lab will be a place for experimentation with innovative, collaborative styles of technology-enhanced active learning. Over time, its scope will broaden to train students in the foundation of data analytics, strengthening opportunities for growth across disciplines. The new dedicated space will provide 44 seats with computers for each student, configured for group work.
Data analytics is a growing and important skill set in today’s job market. With data more available to business, government and nonprofit organizations than ever before, the demand for people equipped to analyze and interpret it has never been higher.
Williams looks forward to the task of overseeing the project.
“I am expecting data to come alive in new ways for our students, which is exciting to me,” she said. “Students will be able to see real-world applications of data that they can use in problem-solving and policy-making.”
Hands-on learning experiences will be available to students in the new Data Analytics Lab as soon as fall 2015.