TDAI to offer Carpentries @ OSU data science workshops for researchers

As computational approaches for analyzing data become increasingly common across research domains, researchers in more and more disciplines are finding the use of data science tools and techniques to be a necessary addition to their skillset.

In partnership with Life Sciences Librarian Amanda Rinehart, the Translational Data Analytics Institute has received a one-year membership to The Carpentries to provide data science workshops that teach such skills.

The Carpentries is an international non-profit organization that creates data- and coding-based educational opportunities to increase data science literacy among researchers. Membership is funded through the Institute of Museums and Library Services in partnership with the California Digital Library.

“The ability to properly interrogate a dataset requires many skills, but for most researchers, knowing what software to use and how to use it can be one of their first major barriers,” Rinehart said. “The Carpentries have a proven track record of effectiveness, community-building and inclusive teaching of data and coding, which helps eliminate this issue. I’m thrilled to bring the Carpentries to OSU, as I’ve long considered it one of the best international efforts in this area.”

The new Carpentries @ OSU workshops, led by Rinehart, TDAI Associate Director Jenna McGuire and TDAI Technology Solutions Engineer Steve Chang, will complement TDAI’s Data Literacy series and University Libraries’ data-oriented workshops.

“TDAI’s Data Literacy series started because of a Carpentries event we hosted,” said Chang. “The interest in the event was beyond our expectations and revealed a real need across campus for data-related training, so we were excited when Amanda brought the Carpentries @ OSU idea to us.”

The team hosted an instructor training in February for six researchers who will lead the Carpentries @ OSU workshops alongside Carpentries-certified trainers from other institutions. The virtual session, “OpenRefine and Python for Social Science,” emphasized teaching graduate students.

Many of the participants valued learning how to communicate effectively with people from other disciplines and with diverse backgrounds.

“Participants in these workshops can be from various backgrounds of discipline, and their previous knowledge in coding can vary greatly as well,” said Eungang Choi, a PhD student in sociology. “The training showed the importance of communicating what you know versus what people understand. It is one thing to be able to code and work data, but another to be able to communicate it in a way that people are able to understand easily.”

Ariel Garsow, a food science and technology PhD student, found the training in step with her interest in international collaborations. “My hopes for becoming a Carpentries instructor include to better be able to explain these methods to individuals in my department at Ohio State and to research partners in Guatemala and Ethiopia,” she said.

One of the participants, Rachael Giglio, is a postdoctoral researcher in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology who has served as an instructor for TDAI’s R workshop series and a speaker for the Data Science for Women Summer Camp.

“I use coding in nearly all aspects of my research, and Carpentries is the perfect platform to share my passion for coding with those interested in learning,” she said. “The pedagogical theory taught to instructors applies to teaching opportunities outside of the Data Carpentry workshops. As someone who aspires to become a professor, I will use the techniques I learned in Carpentries instructor training to become a more effective instructor for all the classes I teach.

Beyond enabling researchers to utilize data science in their work, Carpentries @ OSU workshops emphasize TDAI’s aim of building community.

“I am excited to be a part of Carpentries because they offer so many opportunities to grow as an instructor and be a part of a community of practice,” said Ariel Bacon, University Libraries metadata program assistant. Hilary Bussell, assistant professor and University Libraries subject librarian for Political Science, Economics, and Communication, shared the sentiment.

“Data literacy is increasingly important to learners and researchers across disciplines,” Bussell said. “I was drawn to the Carpentries program because it emphasizes community building and inclusivity in its approach to teaching foundational data skills.”

Three additional workshops are planned for this year. However, no information regarding their releases is available yet. To find out more about these future Carpentries @ OSU workshops, please periodically check back on this webpage.

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