Welcome

Welcome to Data Science in Education Using R! Inspired by {bookdown}, this book is open source. Its contents are reproducible and publicly accessible for people worldwide. The online version of the book is hosted at datascienceineducation.com.

Prologue

There’s this story going around the internet about an eagle egg that hatches in a chicken farm. The eagle egg hatches near the chicken eggs. The local hens are so busy doing their thing that they don’t notice the baby eagle egg is not their own. The eagle chick is born into the world and, having no knowledge of its own eagleness, joins its new family on a nervous and exciting first day of life. Over the next few years the baby eagle lives as chickens live. It eats chicken feed, learns to fly in short choppy hops a few feet at a time, and masters the rapid head jabs of the chicken strut.

One day, while strutting around the chicken farm, the young eagle sees something soaring through the sky. The flying creature has long wings, which it stretches wide before tucking them back in and angling itself downward for a dive towards the earth. The sight of this other-worldly bird stirs something in the young eagle.

Over the next few weeks the eagle finds it can’t shake the vision of the soaring eagle from its mind. It tests the conversational waters during feeding time. It wonders out loud, “What if we tried to fly more than two feet off the ground?” The other chickens stare back. The young eagle, uncertain if these stares are ambivalence or the default chicken eye position, begins to ponder the only way forward. It must learn to fly high while living with the chicken family he loves.

This is a book about learning to program in R while working in education. It’s for folks who feel at home in the education community but are looking out into the world and wondering how to use data better. It’s about being a great educator and wondering if it’s too late to learn to code. It’s about being an educator who’s learning to code and wondering if there are others you can learn with.

We were on Twitter a lot in November of 2017. We talked about things like debugging R code, interpreting model coefficients, and working on spreadsheets with three header rows. We kept coming back to these topics over and over again. It was like having an obscure hobby with online friends because it’s hard to find local knitters who only knit Friends characters, or vinyl collectors who only collect Swedish disco albums. When you work as a data science consultant in education or as an educator learning data science, it’s hard to find that professional community that just gets you. Going to education conferences is great, but the eyes glaze over when you start talking about regression models. The data science conferences are super, but the group at the cocktail table gets smaller when you vent about the state of aggregate test score data.

We started talking about data science in education online because we wanted to be around folks who do data science in education. We wrote this book for you, so you can learn data science with datasets you can find in education work. We don’t claim to be experts at education or data science, but we’re pretty good at talking about what it’s like to do both in a time where doing both is just starting to take off.

So give your chicken family a big hug, open up your laptop, and let’s start learning together. Turns out, there are a lot more hatchlings wanting to be eagles and chickens at the same time.

The Tweet That Started It All

Figure 0.1: The Tweet That Started It All

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by many individuals from the DataEdu Slack channel (https://dataedu.slack.com/). Thank you to everyone who contributed code, suggested changes, asked questions, filed issues, and even designed a logo for us: Daniel Anderson, Abi Aryan, Jason Becker, William Bork, Jon Duan, Erin Grand, Ludmila Janda, Jake Kaupp, Nathan Kenner, David Ranzolin, Kris Stevens, Bret Staudt Willet, and Gustavo Velásquez.

Thank you to the data scientists in education that took time share their stories with us: Isabella Fante, LaCole Foots, Tobie Irvine, Arpi Karapetyan, John LaPlante, and Andrew Morozov.

Citation

If you would like to cite this book, please use the below:

Bovee, E. A., Estrellado, R. A., Motsipak, J., Rosenberg, J. M., & Velásquez, I. C. (under contract). Data science in education using R. London, England: Routledge. Nb. All authors contributed equally