Using large data sets for open-ended inquiry in undergraduate science classrooms

Catherine M. O'Reilly, Rebekka D. Gougis, Jennifer L. Klug, Cayelan C. Carey, David C. Richardson, Nicholas E. Bader, Dax C. Soule, Devin Castendyk, Thomas Meixner, Janet Stomberg, Kathleen C. Weathers, William Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Analysis and synthesis of large and complex data sets are increasingly important components of scientific research. To expose undergraduate students to these data sets and to develop valuable data-analysis skills, a team of environmental scientists and education researchers created Project EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration). Project EDDIE is a pedagogical collaborative that develops and assesses flexible modules that use publicly available, large data sets that allow students to explore a range of concepts in the biological, earth, and environmental sciences. These modules have been implemented in a range of courses, class sizes, and institutions. We assessed six modules over eight courses, which were taught to a total of 1380 students. EDDIE modules led to significant improvements in these students' competence using spreadsheet software, as well as their conceptual understanding of how to use large, complex data sets to address scientific problems. Furthermore, the students reported positive and informative experiences using large data sets to explore open-ended questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1061
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Active learning
  • Environmental sensors
  • Inquiry-guided
  • Project EDDIE
  • Quantitative literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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