Students help bring data science into classrooms

A new initiative on campus this semester is both an exciting learning opportunity for undergraduates and a valuable resource for faculty. Data Science Fellows are undergraduates who work with a faculty member to help develop or support data science components in new or existing courses. The fellows take a class together in addition to working as paid teaching assistants for their faculty member.

This spring, 12 students form the inaugural cohort. They are juniors and seniors with a range of concentrations, including Computer Science, Applied Math, Statistics, Neuroscience, and Political Science. Students need a basic knowledge of data science tools and techniques in order to take the course.

On March 12, the last day that the class met in person this semester, they were practicing with the Zoom classroom, so three students joined remotely. One of those gave a presentation on her work with a faculty member in Behavioral and Social Sciences. This student is helping her faculty member prepare resources for a class to be taught next fall; other students are helping with classes being taught currently.

After her presentation, class also included a micro-lesson on Python packages given by another of the students, and a discussion of constructive criticism, as it is also a course about teaching and learning. The class is highly interactive and collaborative, as students share their knowledge, experiences, and questions with one another as well as with the instructor.

Students are working with a wide range of faculty. Though most are in the sciences, one is Theater Arts and Performance Studies, and another is in German Studies.

The Data Science Fellows program is being designed and taught by Linda Clark, who has a shared appointment in the Data Science Initiative and the Sheridan Center. She is also creating and teaching DATA 0200, a core course for the new Data Science Fluency certificate.

DATA 1150 will be offered again in Spring 2021. Students need to apply for the course during the fall. Faculty members who would like to work with a Data Science Fellow should contact [email protected]. For more information, visit the Sheridan Center website