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Data Science Class Investigating N.C. Shark Attacks

After weeks of research, graduate students in the UNC Charlotte course "Knowledge Discovery in Databases" have analyzed diverse data sets related to sharks and have discovered certain patterns emerge. There appears to be a correlation between the frequency of shark attacks and the phases of the moon, with attacks more prevalent around the time of the full moon. Other factors like tourism, crab population and sea temperature also appear in decision trees and rules that were part of the research process.

Adjunct faculty member Pamela Thompson is the instructor for the class, which is part of UNC Charlotte’s Data Science Initiative. She cautioned that the study was for a class project and not vetted, peer-reviewed research; she hopes that the project will lead to a formal and more thorough research study with collaboration among many.

"Student decisions on features to use, preprocessing and cleansing the data and even the choice of mining algorithms can affect the outcomes in either a positive and negative way," stated Thompson. She added swimmers should always be careful in the water, particularly with the increase in the number of attacks in North Carolina this year.

Research Helps Forge Cross-Cultural Connections

A new College of Education study is revealing the effects of cross-cultural interactions in the classroom, and how educators can better communicate with students from different backgrounds.Published in the journal Teaching Exceptional Children, the research “A Journey, Not a Destination: Developing Cultural Competence in Secondary Transition” looks specifically at educators who help culturally and linguistically diverse special education students transition from school to the adult world.

Tiana Povenmire-Kirk is a project coordinator at the College of Education and one of the study’s co-authors. She said cultural competence training can make a major difference in the classroom.

"Although research indicates it is important that students see individuals who have similar backgrounds in positions of authority, cultural competence development can greatly improve the services all educators deliver, and the experiences of students from diverse backgrounds," said Povenmire-Kirk.