Mercy Professor Rossi Hassad, Ph.D., MPH, recently presented at a conference of professional statisticians and educators at the University of Toronto, Canada. The conference, organized by the International Association for Statistical Education (IASE), focused on the theme of Fostering Learning of Statistics and Data Science.
Hassad’s virtual presentation, “Promoting Reflective Learning in Big Data Analytics: Key Facets and Pedagogical Strategies,” generated a lively discussion among participants. The concept of reflective learning is not new to higher education, said Hassad, but it is particularly attractive to data analytics educators, given the uncertain and unpredictable nature of big data.
“With the advent of big data, which refers to the tremendous volume of highly complex information being generated and shared at high speed and in various formats, conventional teaching approaches are no longer optimal,” said Hassad. “If we are to promote meaningful learning and maximize the benefits of big data, we educators must adapt our pedagogy.” Hassad believes that more emphasis needs to be given to “reflective learning.”
Reflective learning, akin to critical thinking, encourages learners to make connections between their past and present learning experiences, and real-world scenarios. “Reflective learning fosters adaptability and intentional engagement with the course material, instead of primarily relying on rigid methodologies and procedures such as formulas, pre-determined hypotheses and models for problem-solving,” said Hassad. “This approach facilitates students in relating theory to practice, and developing a deep understanding of complex concepts, thus preparing them for successful careers.”
The 2023 IASE conference aimed to generate scholarship and discussion about the shifting landscape of data and its implications. Hassad was invited to present his findings based on a refereed paper he co-authored with a colleague, Dr. Gerald Iacullo, from Southern New Hampshire University. The paper is slated to be published soon in the conference proceedings.
Hassad, whose expertise includes epidemiology, statistics, education, research methods and mental health, is frequently called upon by the media and other sources for commentary on a wide variety of topics. About the IASE conference, Hassad noted that participants’ questions following his presentation indicated “a real thirst for this approach to teaching. The characteristics and challenges of big data are raising important questions about how we teach statistics and data science. It’s good to see reflective learning strategies moving to the forefront of statistics and data science education.”