Tools and Data Sets

Choosing a Data Set

1) a low barrier of technical expertise needed for students to collect data

2) established checks and balances to ensure that student mistakes will not compromise research quality

3) a diverse set of variables that present many combinatorial choices for students to investigate without overwhelming the instructional team

4) a central standardized database into which students can upload data

5) assessment measures that are representative of real-world science

6) involvement of instructors with expertise in the study system.

Adapted from Kloser (2011) PLOS Biology



  • Data pre-processed into format usable by students

  • Data that can be easily ingested by simple plotting / spreadsheet programs

  • Metadata is provided for the dataset


  • Data retrievable through the web

  • Basic tools provided to analyze data

  • Data source is maintained over the long term and provides basic quality control (government-sponsored data sets are more likely to be maintained than those created by individuals)

Practice Activity with Data:

  • Tutorials

  • Team discussions

  • Instructor notes


Example data sets

Data sets with developed materials