Understanding Data Literacy Requirements for Assignments: A Business School Syllabus Study

Meryl Brodsky


Syllabus studies have been used to inform librarians’ work in collection development, instruction and information literacy. Syllabi also provide an opportunity to understand course requirements for data literacy. In this study, syllabi from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business were analyzed to determine which courses require data literacy for the completion of assignments or projects. The author tested several hypotheses to identify where data literacy instruction would be most needed:

  1. Data use in online and hybrid class assignments is greater than for in-person class assignments
  2. Graduate students have greater data requirements than undergraduate students
  3. Different business school disciplines have different data needs (i.e., marketing has more, accounting has less)

Though this was not a scientific study, analyzing syllabi and assignments can reveal both stated and implied data literacy competencies. Surfacing these competencies and making them explicit gives the librarian and the teaching faculty the opportunity to co-design relevant teaching and learning activities. Since data literacy instruction is a new initiative at the Eastern Michigan University Library, the author also used this study to bring attention to this capacity.


data literacy, information literacy, library instruction, academic librarians, syllabi

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.23974/ijol.2017.vol2.1.25


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