Zalles, D. (2014). Young youth explore geospatial data for citizenship project: A case study. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
One can theorize that when youth become aware that raw data sets can help them carry out appealing activities, their self-efficacy increases because they realize that if they explore the data themselves, they can draw their own conclusions. The following case study provides one example of this theory’s enactment. Yet, Whether in formal or informal science youths’ engagement with data, particularly raw data, is threatened when supports are insufficient for drawing meaning from the data. For example, there may be insufficient explanation of how the data are structured and how to make sense of the statistics that are displayed as forms of data reduction (e.g., mean, median, variance). These challenges are compounded when the youth need to also (1) become sufficiently proficient in using the technology for data collection, querying, and analysis; (2) recognize errors in the data from, for example, inadequate instrument and protocol calibration; (3) persist with their inquiry when their initial findings do not yield simple answers; and (4) learn enough about the focal scientific phenomena to draw meaning from the data in the first place (Feldman et al., 2009; Lehrer & Schauble, 2000; Zalles & Vahey 2005). With data sets collected by and for scientists, these challenges are often exacerbated by lack of accompanying information about how the data were collected, how they were measured, and how they are visually represented (Zalles, 2013a, 2013b; Radinsky et al., in review).