College approves new data literacy program


Photo by Daniel Salomon

AACC’s Vice President for Learning Michael Gavin says the new data literacy certificate program will be useful to mid-level managers.

Alexandra Radovic, Associate Editor

AACC’s Board of Trustees approved a new 18-credit data literacy certificate program in February.

According to Vice President for Learning Michael Gavin, data literacy is the ability to understand what questions to ask and how to find data to support decisions.

Professors Paul Lawson and Gretchen Mester from the School of Business and Law created the program.

“We hope [employees and adjunct professors] internally within the college will want to take that program because of the changing nature of their job,” Gavin said.

Gavin explained the job market has changed in such a way that mid-level managers are expected to use data in a strategic way. In the past, he said, their bosses were supposed to do that.

“We are trying to keep up with industry changes so that we can train people who already have such jobs, but their expectations have changed,” said Gavin.

The college researched the need for this program in part by reviewing occupational descriptions for published jobs that include data management and data literacy, but not at the level of a data scientist.

“Data analytics is a much more complex endeavor,” Gavin said. “It’s developing databases and running actual what-if scenarios, which is a little beyond what this certificate is offering.”

At the board meeting, Gavin said more than 80 percent of analysis-related jobs require employees to understand how to read data.

“We’re not seeing a lot of programs out there that prepare people for that kind of level of analysis,” said Gavin.

This program is the first of its kind in Maryland, and it will be ready for publication in the college catalog in fall 2018.

“This certificate is so that people can understand data in a way that is rational and responsible, but it’s not necessarily for them to be developing data,” Gavin said. “The developing of the data is a level beyond what the certificate offers.”