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Team Science Seminar: Student Digital Opportunity and Cost Barriers


Wednesday, 2 PM (EDT), April 14, 2021

Zoom Link:

As part of our Spring Seminar Series 2021, we host an interdisciplinary team science presentation by Ph.D. candidates Cary Jim and Alison Grant. Cary and Alison are co-leads of a unique student-led team combining data science and economic policy to investigate digital divide issues in the U.S. The team consists of six members including two undergraduate students and two staff members representing five disciplines and four universities. They are currently vying for the finals of an XPRIZE competition. 

Title: Student Digital Opportunity and Cost Barriers among Counties Within the U.S.


The recent COVID-19 pandemic signifies digital inequalities among K-12 students who lack reliable internet and technology to continue their schooling. We utilized a range of public and open data to establish measures in order to understand how different factors are associated with the digital infrastructure and technology needed for students to participate in digital learning.

As part of an education data challenge, we focused on a set of variables that represent broadband access, usage, and availability of technology at the county and state level for families with school-aged children. A condensed social cost-benefit analysis was conducted to compare costs to increase internet access and quality, as well as the potential benefits of future earning potential for both teachers and students. This work aligns with the current policy environment in the United States, in which President Biden’s recent three trillion infrastructure plan would allocate one hundred billion dollars plan to provide broadband for all.

Speaker Bios:

Cary K. Jim is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Texas. Her current research focuses on educational data science, specifically the integration of computational methods with measurement principles to analyze complex data. A former math & science teacher before discovering her interest in program evaluation and assessment in education. She holds a M.A.T in Science Education from The University of Texas at Dallas.

ResearchGate @ Cary Jim


Alison Grant is a Ph.D. Candidate in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. She earned an MS in Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics and a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Her research interests include environmental food policy and general public policy. You can find more about Alison here.