WDCC News Q2: Data Science Education

WUR offers to many MSc and BSc students 29+ courses related to the topics of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. The question is to what extent this offering of courses is sound and complete? To answer this question at WDCC we set up a small project in which we compared the WUR Data Science current curriculum with the Body of Knowledge for Data Science Curricula created by ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Data Science Task Force (ACM Data Science Task Force, 2021). The Body of Knowledge comprises Knowledge Areas which are further refined into a set of sub-domains which can be associated with Data science competences. We searched for those competences in WUR Data Science courses to be able to evaluate to what extent they cover the ACM Body of knowledge.

In summary, the following observations and recommendations were identified:

  • From 11 ACM knowledge areas 8 are well covered in WUR DS/AI courses. The most covered ACM knowledge areas are: 1) Data Acquisition, Management and Governance; 2) Data Mining, and 3) Machine Learning.
  • ACM Data Science competences that are most taught in WUR courses relate to: working with various types of data, data cleaning, data transformation, classification and regression, data preparation, cluster analysis, supervised and unsupervised learning.
  • We identified ACM knowledge areas which are less or not represented in the WUR DS/AI courses. These areas related to Computing and Computer Fundamentals, and Software development and maintenance.
  • ACM Data Science competences that are (almost) not taught in WUR courses and which according to us might be relevant for WUR students are: Foundational Considerations of Data Visualisation, Machine Learning robustness and explainability; Data Security, and competences related to computing and computer fundamentals.
  • We recommend discussing the need of including the missing knowledge areas and competences in the current WUR data science courses portfolio. The discussion should take place among the WUR data science community (e.g., WDCC Data Science education advisory group) and the potential changes should be consulted with course coordinators, program directors, and programme committees. It might be considered to update the content of the existing courses, developing new ones or partnering with other Dutch universities.
  • We searched for the ACM competences in Osiris Course Descriptions. We observed that course descriptions differ largely in their extent and level of detail about what is taught in the course. We recommend updating the course descriptions so that they convey in more detail the competences, knowledge, and skills taught in the course.

Coordinator Data Science Education