We ran a pilot scheme to test methods of teaching foundational data skills to undergraduates, which showed the importance of integrating these skills into existing modules and teaching them early in courses.
Purpose of the pilot
In response to commitments set out in the National Data Strategy, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) extended the scope of the Postgraduate Conversion Course programme.
The pilots aimed to test methods of teaching in existing provision of foundational data skills to undergraduates whose subject does not contain significant data science elements.
In partnership with the DCMS, we awarded £294,000 funding to seven projects within the programme. The pilot ran from October 2021 to March 2022 and included projects at:
- Teesside University
- University of Hull
- Newcastle University
- University of Wolverhampton
- Solent University
- Birmingham City University
- Lancaster University.
Evaluation and outcomes
We extended the scope of the external evaluators to evaluate this pilot. They were also commissioned to conduct desktop research to look at how providers beyond the programme and the UK are embedding these skills for undergraduates.
Key findings included:
- Students preferred to learn data skills where the teaching is embedded into existing modules.
- The earlier in a course that data skills are taught, the more time students had to embed skills and demonstrate their importance.
- A number of the students were not aware of the value of data skills within their own potential career paths.
- More research needs to be undertaken to understand the impact and effectiveness of different approaches to teaching data skills.