Integrating Data Rescue into the Classroom

Ryan, Ciara, Duffy, Catriona, Broderick, Ciaran, Thorne, Peter, Curley, Mary, Walsh, Seamus, Daly, Conor, Treanor, Mairead and Murphy, Conor (2018) Integrating Data Rescue into the Classroom. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 99. pp. 1757-1764. ISSN 1520-0477


Over much of the globe, the temporal extent of meteorological records is limited, yet a wealth of data remains in paper or image form in numerous archives. To date, little attention has been given to the role that students might play in efforts to rescue these data. Here we summarize an ambitious research-led, accredited teaching experiment in which undergraduate students successfully transcribed more than 1,300 station years of daily precipitation data and associated metadata across Ireland over the period 1860–1939. We explore i) the potential for integrating data rescue activities into the classroom, ii) the ability of students to produce reliable transcriptions and, iii) the learning outcomes for students. Data previously transcribed by Met Éireann (Ireland’s National Meteorological Service) were used as a benchmark against which it was ascertained that students were as accurate as the professionals. Details on the assignment, its planning and execution, and student-aids used are provided. The experience highlights the benefits that can accrue for data rescue through innovative collaboration between national meteorological services and academic institutions. At the same time, students have gained valuable learning outcomes and firsthand understanding of the processes that underpin data rescue and analysis. The success of the project demonstrates the potential to extend data rescue in the classroom to other universities, thus providing both an enriched learning experience for the students and a lasting legacy to the scientific community.

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