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Evaluating Data “Bootcamp” for Biology Grad Students

A screen shows lines of code in various colors
NORC helps UChicago faculty assess the value of an immersive week at Woods Hole
  • Client
    University of Chicago
  • Dates
    2017 - 2021

To test an innovative curriculum focusing on hands-on learning in data science and quantitative research methods, NORC has provided evaluation support, including technical assistance on research design and instrument development, to faculty in UChicago’s Biological Sciences Division (BSD) in support of their NSF Research Training Grant (NRT). Since 2015, new BSD students have journeyed to the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, for a week-long quantitative “bootcamp.” During the bootcamp, students learn skills such as writing code, exploring and visualizing data, scientific statistics, and analyzing images and video.

A combination of tutorials and hands-on workshops using real data, taught by BSD faculty, give students a foundation in the methods they’ll later apply to their own research. Additionally, the experience provides a chance for students to meet across disciplinary boundaries and practice teamwork with their new colleagues. The project uses attitudinal surveys, skills assessments, and social network analysis to evaluate the impact of the MBL “bootcamp. experience on preparing BSD graduate students for careers in a rapidly changing discipline. A short video describing the QBIO project can be found on the platform.

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