Partnership Aims to Grow Data Science Pipeline in Arkansas

Karl Schubert
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Karl Schubert

Arkansas high school students will have the opportunity to pursue courses in data science through a revised curriculum approved by the Arkansas Department of Education.

The effort was led by Karl Schubert, professor of practice and associate director of the University of Arkansas' new undergraduate data science program. The change comes as part of an update to the state's high school computer science curriculum.

Schubert chaired a sub-committee through the Arkansas Department of Education that brought together leaders from secondary and post-secondary schools, the Arkansas Department of Education and relevant industries to update the state's high school computer science curriculum.

Schubert said the effort will provide high school students a strong foundation as they prepare to pursue post-secondary education in rapidly-growing field of data science.  

"The new data science path combines lectures and hands-on, team-based project to introduce students to key concepts in data science," he said.  "These skills will position students for success as they pursue post-secondary education and, eventually, careers in data science."

Topics in the classes will include defining, storing, accessing, manipulating, and analyzing data; visually representing data and communicating the results for technical and non-technical audiences; and understanding various types of data bias and how to mitigate them.

Read the full data science plan.

The University of Arkansas developed a data science program in response to a growing demand for the field among businesses in Arkansas and across the nation. The program his hosted jointly by the College of Engineering, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and the Sam M. Walton College of Business, providing students access to experts in all three colleges as they shape their data science skillset.

Bill Yoder, who leads the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences, said the new curriculum will benefit students and industries throughout the state.  

"We know more Arkansas employers are driving an increasing talent demand to staff their data driven decisioning, and this curriculum goes a long way statewide to putting the students on a pathway that will lead to very fulfilling careers," he said.

The Arkansas Department of Education approved the committee's recommendations in December. New data science high school courses are expected to be available in the fall of 2021.

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