There are two core units in the National Progression Award (NPA) in Data Science, and at Level 5 and 6 there is also an optional unit. There’s a great choice of options, so hopefully centres and educators will find one that suits their situation and their learners interests.
The Data Security unit provides a relatively gentle introduction into the field of cyber security. This unit is one of the core units in the NPA in Cybersecurity at Levels 4, 5 and 6. This means if learners already have the Cybersecurity NPA then they do not need to do an optional unit in the Data Science NPA.
If a school or college is experienced in delivering the Data Security unit, then this would be a natural choice of optional unit, at least for the first year or so until educators are familiar with the other units and are interested in trying other options.
Data Science Project
The Data Science Project unit at Level 5 is a group project, with learners working together to source and analyse data and then communicate their findings and recommendations. At Level 6 this is an individual project. Learners will be investigating a problem that they have chosen themselves.
This unit has a lot of potential to be a hugely engaging and fun experience for learners, particularly if they are prompted to investigate projects that can make a real difference in their schools and communities. For example, learners could use IoT sensors to investigate environmental conditions in their school building or in their neighbourhood, perhaps combined with available climate data. Learners having a sense of ownership over the project and self-efficacy will be beneficial for the success of the projects.
Although it is anticipated that this unit will be a popular choice with schools and colleges, it might not be the best choice for an inexperienced teacher or lecturer the first time this course is run in a centre. The second time around, it would be a fun option for an educator who has gained confidence with the core units, particularly the Data Science unit.
The Computer Programming unit covers writing algorithms to solve problems, explaining programming concepts and writing computing programs. The programming language used is not specified, so if learners are going to use Python in the Data Science unit (particularly at Level 6) then covering this unit first to introduce learners to the Python language would seem a sensible approach.
This unit has been popular in Maths departments. If a school or college is experienced in delivering this Statistics unit, then this would be a natural choice of optional unit, at least for the first year or so until educators are familiar with the other units and are interested in trying other options. This would be a good optional unit choice if the course is being delivered by a Mathematics teacher with experience of teaching statistics. Gaining this single unit qualifies learners for a Statistics Award, in addition to the NPA in Data Science.
Data Science Statistics
This would be a suitable optional unit choice if the course is being delivered by a Mathematics teacher or lecturer with experience of teaching statistics in the field of data science. It would require more experience than the Statistics unit and covers more in-depth content. It may possibly require more preparation and development time than some of the other optional unit choices.
This would be a suitable optional unit choice if the course is being delivered by an experienced Computing Science educator with experience of machine learning techniques. It would probably require more preparation and development time than some of the other optional unit choices.
You can read more about the core and optional units in the Educators Guide to the NPA (pages 6-9)