Student Interpretation of Conservation Data: Does their Reach exceed their Grasp

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This study examined how well undergraduate students can develop data analysis skills relevant to conservation biology over the course of a single semester. Students completed two conservation data analysis exercises, pre and post self-assessments of confidence in data analysis skills, a classroom discussion, and pre/post content assessments. Between the first and second exercises, a data analysis teaching intervention was administered in all classes. Instructional and assessment materials were created and validated by 24 conservation educators led by the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at AMNH. Results from one semester (100+ students) show that students scored significantly higher on post-content assessments for both exercises. We also found significant increases in student self-assessment of confidence in data analysis skills. However, when evaluated at the level of different skill dimensions, students' ability to represent and interpret data improved between exercises, but ability to complete calculations and draw conclusions was significantly worse on the second exercise. While our study demonstrates that direct instruction in data analysis does improve student performance overall, there is a disconnect between student self-assessment of their data analysis skills and their actual ability. This indicates that some aspects of data analysis may require different teaching intervention approaches.


International Colloquium on Conservation Biology (ICCB)


Baltimore, MD