NORC is providing evaluation consulting services, including technical assistance on research design and instrument development, to the Biological Sciences Division (BSD) at the University of Chicago in support of their NSF Research Training Grant (NRT) to test an innovative curriculum that focuses on hands-on learning in data science and quantitative research. Starting in 2015, new BSD students journey to the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole for an immersive week learning key concepts 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 each other across disciplinary boundaries and practice teamwork with their new colleagues. The project is using 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.