What competencies do students need when working with data?

by Pia Kreijkes, 28 June 2023
Image of modern day geography lesson

Research by Researcher Pia Kreijkes has identified what competencies students need to work with data. Paper assessments limit how these competencies are taught and assessed. We are designing an assessment of contemporary Geography and a key part of that offer will support the development of these competencies.  

Diagram showing eight competencies students need when working with data, arranged as eight petals of a flower

View PDF of the diagram.

Being able to synthesise, visualise, solve problems, and tell stories with data have emerged as key competencies that HEI and industry want from geographers and skills that teachers recognise and promote in the classroom.’ - Nicola Twitchett

How it was used

This research really kickstarted our work exploring the teaching and learning of data literacy in schools in a range of subjects. When geography teachers showed us some of the innovative ways they teach with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and large digital datasets in the classroom and told us that these ways of working with data aren’t currently assessed, our focus quickly narrowed to geography. The research also guided our conversations with Higher Education Institutions and industry experts around the skills and attributes they would like to see geography students arrive with at university or the workplace. It also framed some of the questions around data skills and how they could be assessed differently that we included in our global survey for geography teachers.

How it has influenced the assessment design

Using digital to support the development of these skills is a key part of our Contemporary Geography offering, as current paper assessments limit how these are taught and assessed.‘ - Ross Robertson

We’re still in the early stages of our assessment design but it’s fair to say that learning through enquiry has always been important pedagogy in geography, so both Pia’s research and teacher insights have had a major influence on our proposed assessment model so far. Together they’ve provided a framework for discussions with consultants and schools about the competencies that we need to prioritise in our assessment and the most appropriate modes of assessment and the role of digital in this. Currently one of our proposed assessments involves using a digital platform to continually capture and track iterations of student work following self-reflection and feedback from others in a portfolio. This work will demonstrate the data competencies that geographers need to answer real-world questions and generate new understanding.

Learn more about the Cambridge Digital Assessment Programme.

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