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Just Figures: A Method to Introduce Students to Data Analysis One Figure at a Time

    Authors: Julia Massimelli1,*, Kameryn Denaro1, Brian Sato1, Pavan Kadandale1, Nancy Boury2
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    Affiliations: 1: University of California, Irvine, CA, 92697; 2: Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 03 September 2018 Accepted 07 December 2018 Published 28 June 2019
    • ©2019 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Supplemental materials available at http://asmscience.org/jmbe
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, 2232 McGaugh Hall mail code 3900, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697. Phone: 949-824-7998 Fax: 949-824-8551 E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe..v20i2.1690
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    Abstract:

    Quantitative data analysis skills are basic competencies students in a STEM field should master. In this article, we describe a classroom activity using isolated figures from papers as a simple exercise to practice data analysis skills. We call this approach Just Figures. With this technique, instructors find figures from primary papers that address key concepts related to several of their course learning objectives. These figures are assigned as homework prior to class discussion. In class, instructors teach the lesson and include a 10- to 20-minute discussion of the figures assigned. Frequent and repeated discussion of paper figures during class increased students’ confidence in reading and analyzing data. The Just Figures approach also increased student accuracy when interpreting data. After six weeks of Just Figures practice, students scored, on average, three points higher on a 20-point data analysis assessment instrument than they had done before the Just Figures exercises. In addition, a course in which students consistently practiced Just Figures performed just as well on the data analysis assessment instrument and on a class exam dedicated to paper reading compared with courses where students practiced reading three entire papers. The Just Figures method is easy to implement and can effectively improve student data analysis skills in microbiology classrooms.

References & Citations

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2019-06-28
2019-10-21

Abstract:

Quantitative data analysis skills are basic competencies students in a STEM field should master. In this article, we describe a classroom activity using isolated figures from papers as a simple exercise to practice data analysis skills. We call this approach Just Figures. With this technique, instructors find figures from primary papers that address key concepts related to several of their course learning objectives. These figures are assigned as homework prior to class discussion. In class, instructors teach the lesson and include a 10- to 20-minute discussion of the figures assigned. Frequent and repeated discussion of paper figures during class increased students’ confidence in reading and analyzing data. The Just Figures approach also increased student accuracy when interpreting data. After six weeks of Just Figures practice, students scored, on average, three points higher on a 20-point data analysis assessment instrument than they had done before the Just Figures exercises. In addition, a course in which students consistently practiced Just Figures performed just as well on the data analysis assessment instrument and on a class exam dedicated to paper reading compared with courses where students practiced reading three entire papers. The Just Figures method is easy to implement and can effectively improve student data analysis skills in microbiology classrooms.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1A

Paper analysis instrument response scores displaying the data analysis average score plus/minus two standard errors before (pre) and after (post) courses using Just Figures for the entire course (2016, 26), Just Figures exercise for 6 weeks (2017, 19), and a course where students read 3 journal articles and took a paper quiz (as described in Sato . [ 12 ]) (2018, 14) in a Microbial Genetics course, University of California Irvine. The data analysis quiz instrument can be found in the supplemental material.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe..v20i2.1690
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FIGURE 1B

Paper analysis instrument response scores displaying the average gains in the data analysis score (post – pre) plus/minus two standard errors. To test whether there were significant gains in data analysis scores for each year, a one-sample -test was performed with a Bonferroni correction on the Type I error (α = 0.05/3 = 0.0167). Each of the three methods had significant gains; 2016 ( 6.13, 0.001), 2017 ( 5.42, 0.001), and 2018 ( 7.14, 0.001). However, there was not a significant difference in the gains on the data analysis quiz score when comparing the course using Just Figures for the entire course (2016), the course using Just Figures for 6 weeks (2017), and the course where students read three journal articles and took a paper quiz (2018) ( = 2.48, 0.10).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe..v20i2.1690
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FIGURE 2

Mean plus/minus two standard errors of students’ grades on a paper-reading dedicated exam called “Paper quiz.” In winter 2016/2017, the Just Figures approach was used ( 37, mean = 81.58, SE = 2.48). In winter 2018, the paper reading method was used ( 14, mean = 79.29, SE = 2.81). Although the quizzes used in 2016, 2017, and 2018 were different, they showed a similar distribution of questions at different Bloom’s levels, at least 60% of questions ranking in the analyze, evaluate, and create levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (cognitive processes, 27). The quiz was administered toward the end of the course on each quarter it was taught. To test whether there was a difference in paper quiz scores between 2016/2017 and 2018 a two-sample -test was performed; there was no difference in paper quiz scores when comparing the Just Figures approach and the paper-reading method ( 0.58, = 0.5657).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. June 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe..v20i2.1690
Download as Powerpoint

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