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BEDE Network is hosting a short course at the 2021 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America!

See the description below, or navigate to the ESA website and search for "Short Course 7".


Bringing Computational Data Sciences to Your Undergraduate Ecology Classroom

Friday, August 6th, 2021
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM Pacific Time

Session Description

The biological and environmental sciences have been rapidly and fundamentally reshaped by recent technological advances, including increased computational power, sensor technologies, publicly available software and data, and Internet connectivity. These advances, together with the demands that we provide our students with technical skills to navigate data and technology in the 21st century, necessitate the integration of computational data sciences into our undergraduate and graduate classrooms. However, many instructors do not feel qualified or prepared to teach such materials, either for lack of technical skills or pedagogical training, limiting the usefulness of already developed computational course or lab modules. This “train the teachers” short course will include both technical training for fundamental data science skills, including R and Markdown, and pedagogical training for communicating those skills in the classroom and lab. Working through data science examples in-real time, participants will experience the material as a learner and gain strategies toward including and being able to teach these skills in their own courses. Participants will also learn and practice the use of pedagogy techniques, such as backwards design, to envision how data science can be integrated within their courses. The goal is to equip instructors with technical tools and instructional strategies that they can then confidently customize to their own curricular goals and institutional needs.

Session Summary:
This “train the teachers” short course will include technical training for fundamental data science skills and pedagogical training for teaching and communicating those skills in your own classroom and lab.

BEDE Network members published an article on BioRxiv! We conducted a survey of undergraduate educators to assess the interest in, and need for, educator training in data science pedagogy in biology/environmental science.

Read it here:


There is a clear and concrete need for greater quantitative literacy in the biological and environmental sciences. Data science training for students in higher education necessitates well-equipped and confident instructors across curricula. However, not all instructors are versed in data science skills or research-based teaching practices. Our study sought to survey the state of data science education across institutions of higher learning, identify instructor needs, and illuminate barriers to teaching data science in the classroom. We distributed a survey to instructors around the world, focused on the United States, and received 106 complete responses. Our results indicate that instructors across institutions use, teach, and view data management, analysis, and visualization as important for students to learn. Code, modeling, and reproducibility were less valued by instructors, although there were differences by institution type (doctoral, masters, or baccalaureate), and career stage (time since terminal degree). While there were a variety of barriers highlighted by respondents, instructor background, student background, and space in the curriculum were the greatest barriers of note. Interestingly, instructors were most interested in receiving training for how to teach code and data analysis in the undergraduate classroom. Our study provides an important window into how data science is taught in higher education as well as suggestions for how we can best move forward with empowering instructors across disciplines.