Tag Archive for QAC

Kabacoff: Teaching Quantitative Analysis during the Pandemic

Robert Kabacoff,

Robert Kabacoff

When the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted in-person classes last spring, several faculty found innovative and creative ways to adapt to online teaching and learning.

In the fourth of a fall-semester series, we’ll be highlighting ways faculty from various departments are coping with teaching during a pandemic, and showcase individual ways courses are thriving in an in-person, online, or hybridized environment.

In this issue, we spotlight Robert Kabacoff, professor of the practice in the Quantitative Analysis Center. This fall, he’s teaching QAC 201: Applied Data Analysis; QAC 356: Advanced R: Building Open-Source Tools for Data Analysis; and QAC 385: Applications of Machine Learning in Data Analysis.

In the past, all of Kabacoff’s classes were taught in-person, but he’s currently teaching all three virtually.

“It’s a new experience,” he said. “The biggest challenge is keeping students engaged so they don’t feel like they are watching television or a YouTube video.”

To prevent Zoom fatigue, Kabakoff takes the following steps:

  1. He encourages all students to keep their video on to have a “classroom” feel.
  2. He sets up a forum at the beginning of the course where students share a bit about themselves, including their year, major, goals in the course, and at least one fun fact about themselves.
  3. He regularly checks in with them via Zoom chat, asking them to share a word or two about how they are doing.
  4. He uses polls to check their learning.
  5. He regularly groups students into breakout rooms to discuss and work on problems. Each group selects a representative to share their findings when they come back into the main room.
  6. They use Google’s Jamboard (whiteboard) during discussions, so that each student can add their thoughts in real time.
  7. Students read articles and watch videos via Perusall, a software tool that encourages them to comment on what they are reading or viewing. Students share thoughts and ask questions that other students try to answer. “The goal is to make a community learning environment,” Kabakoff said.

Although these approaches are working well, remote teaching has its downsides. Since he’s not meeting the students in person, Kabakoff tries diligently not to let students “fall through the cracks” and to keep them actively engaged in their own learning. He also helps students in different time zones feel connected and assists those who have poor internet service.

Kabakoff’s QAC 356 and QAC 385 classes have semester-long group projects. “Students work together via Zoom and use other team-building tools to complete the assignments together. At the end of the semester, they present their results to the class virtually,” he said.

But for his QAC 201 course, the class is a flipped classroom; students watch videos, complete readings, and take short quizzes on the material before class. In class, they work on a semester-long original research project. They do this by working at permanent virtual tables with five other students and a peer mentor (a student who has taken the course before and excelled on their own project).

“My role in this course is to provide very short lectures and act as a resource for each ‘table’ as they work on their projects,” Kabakoff said. “The course was designed by two Wesleyan psychology faculty and funded by an NSF grant. It has always been a flipped classroom, but has only now been offered virtually at Wesleyan.”

Wesleyan Places 1st in National Cybersecurity Competition

CSAW

Cher Qin ’21, Shuyuan Hung ’21, John Jiang ’21, and Kevin Koech ’21 took first place in a recent cybersecurity policy competition.

A team from Wesleyan took first place in the 2019 CSAW Policy Competition, the most comprehensive security competition in the world.

Hosted by the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU School of Law Center for Cybersecurity on Nov. 6–8, the U.S.-Canada policy competition challenged contestants to think about the big picture of cybersecurity policy, economics, law, and governance. The purpose of the competition is to encourage students who are interested in the nexus of policy and emerging technology issues to think critically about major policy issues affecting society and to impact the cyber industry by presenting their ideas to leaders within the field.

Wesleyan’s team included College of Social Studies (CSS) and quantitative analysis center (QAC) major Cher Qin ’21; CSS and economics major Shuyuan Hung ’21; CSS and physics major John Jiang ’21; and computer science and economics major Kevin Koech ’21.

The team took home a $1,000 prize for the first-place win. Teams from the United States Naval Academy took the second and third prizes.

“We did not expect that [we], coming out of a liberal arts university, would win, but having diverse backgrounds helped,” Hung said.

Read more about the competition in this QAC student blog.

Wesleyan Media Project Students and Faculty Speak at Conference, Contribute to National Political Debate

Wesleyan Media Project at Conference

Several faculty, students, and alumni associated with the Wesleyan Media Project attended and presented at the Conference on Politics and Computational Social Science (PaCSS) in Washington, D.C., this summer. From left, Pavel Oleinikov, associate director of the Quantitative Analysis Center, adjunct assistant professor of quantitative analysis; Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project; Lance Lepelstat ’20; WMP Project Manager Laura Baum; former pre-doctoral research fellow Jielu Yao; Carlo Medina ’18; and Tsun Lok Kwan ’21.

As the 2020 presidential election season heats up, the Wesleyan Media Project (WMP) is providing important analysis on campaign advertising for researchers and the media alike. Over the summer, Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of WMP, worked with undergraduate students and others to accelerate the analysis of digital political advertising, which has seen enormous growth this year over previous cycles.

In the early summer, WMP hosted a mini-hackathon to begin the process of analyzing political ads on Facebook. They worked with summer students through the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC), and with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Saray Shai and her students Adina Gitomer ’20 and Liz Atalig ’21 on political ad analysis. And in late August, WMP, with support from Academic Affairs and the Government Department, took students, staff, and a former student to the second annual Conference on Politics and Computational Social Science (PaCSS) in Washington, D.C.

115 Students Present Statistical Research at QAC Poster Session

In the Quantitative Analysis Center course, QAC 201: Applied Data Analysis, students are introduced to statistics and data collection through asking and answering statistical questions that they care about.

Topics come from a large range of disciplines including psychology, sociology, government, and environmental science. Students generate hypotheses based on existing data, conduct a literature review, prepare data for analysis, and conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analyses.

On May 3 in Beckham Hall, 115 students presented their projects at a poster session. Twenty-five guests evaluated the posters, including faculty from Wesleyan, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University, City University of New York, Central Connecticut State University, and Vassar College; research fellows; alumni and staff; social scientists; research analysts; and other industry professionals.

The poster session served as the final exam for the course.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Jodie Kahan '21 presented her study titled, "Do Children Listen?: The Association Between a Child's Perception of their Mothers' Attitudes About Sex and a Child's Willingness to Engage in Sex."

Jodie Kahan ’21 presented her study titled, “Do Children Listen?: The Association Between a Child’s Perception of Their Mothers’ Attitudes About Sex and a Child’s Willingness to Engage in Sex.” Her evaluator is Kendall Hobbs, a research librarian at Wesleyan.

Tinatin Omoeva '21 discussed her poster called, "Control Yourself! The Association Between Self-Control and Financial Skills."

Tinatin Omoeva ’21 discussed her poster called, “Control Yourself! The Association Between Self-Control and Financial Skills.”

Guest Evaluators Critique QAC Poster Session

poster session

The Quantitative Analysis Center hosted a poster session Dec. 7 in Beckham Hall. More than 35 guest evaluators attended the event to critique the students’ posters.

Valerie Acosta ’20 shared her study titled “References in the Association between Medicaid and Treatment Seeking Among Individuals with Depression.”

Scholars Discuss Digital Methods in Research and Teaching

Faculty and students from Wesleyan, Binghamton University, Marlboro College, the University of Illinois and Exeter University participated in a two-day workshop titled "From Theory to Practice: Digital Methods in Research and Teaching" Sept. 7-8 in Allbritton Hall.

Faculty and students from Wesleyan, Binghamton University, Marlboro College, the University of Illinois and Exeter University participated in a two-day workshop titled “From Theory to Practice: Digital Methods in Research and Teaching” Sept. 7-8 at the Allbritton Center.

A new collaborative research hub, supported by Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center, provides faculty and students with the tools to prepare, analyze and disseminate information on movement, travel and communication in easily-accessible formats.

The Traveler’s Lab, developed by faculty members Gary Shaw, Jesse Torgerson and Adam Franklin-Lyons at Marlboro College, connects the faculty with each others’ projects, but also with students who are interested in an interdisciplinary approach to historical research.

105 Students Present Research at QAC Spring Poster Session

On May 5, 105 students presented their quantitative analysis research during a poster session in Beckham Hall.

The Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) hosts a poster session twice a year, which doubles as a final exam evaluation for its QAC 201 course. Nineteen evaluators, of which seven were Wesleyan-affiliated, attended and judged the projects. Students also had the opportunity to share their projects with fellow students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Wesleyan.

In this project-based course, students learned to answer questions through independent research based on existing data. Students developed skills in generating testable hypotheses, conducting a literature review, preparing data for analysis, conducting descriptive and inferential statistical analyses, and presenting research findings.

Zehua (Jack) Wang '20 presented his story on "The Relation between Region and Diameter of Impact Craters on Mars."

Zehua (Jack) Wang ’20 presented his study on “The Relation between Region and Diameter of Impact Craters on Mars.”

Wesleyan Team Honored for “Best Innovation” at 2017 DataFest

Students from six colleges and universities participated in DataFest March 29-April 2 at Wesleyan.

Students from six colleges and universities participated in DataFest March 29-April 2 at Wesleyan.

The Wesleyan team Data Baes took one of the top prizes for “Best Innovation” during DataFest, held March 31 to April 2 at Exley Science Center. Seventy-five students from six institutions participated in the annual analysis competition.

During DataFest, students are presented with a large, complex data set and work over the weekend to explore, analyze and present their findings. Teams of three to five students work together and compete against other teams from Wesleyan, Connecticut College, Yale University, Lafayette College, University of Connecticut and Trinity College.

Under the auspices of the American Statistical Association, the event is organized by the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC).

At the end of DataFest, each team had five minutes to present their findings to the judges. The judging panel included data scientists, research analysts and a biostatistician

Students Share Quantitative Analysis Research at Poster Session

On Dec. 9, more than 100 students participated in the Quantitative Analysis Center Research Poster Session in Beckham Hall. The poster session served as the students’ QAC 201 final exam. The event provides students with the opportunity to share the fruits of their work with others. Several Wesleyan faculty and alumni evaluated the students’ poster presentations.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the QAC 201 course allows students to ask and answer questions about which they feel passionately. Students generate hypotheses based on existing data; conduct a literature review and evaluate the content of empirical research; prepare data for analysis; select and conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analyses; and present research findings to expert and novice audiences. By providing opportunities to learn one of four major statistical analysis software packages, and translate across them, this course aims to empower students to manage, analyze and interpret large data sets from a range of different disciplines.

Photos of the poster session are below: (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

eve_postersession_2016-1208135556

eve_postersession_2016-1208135903

Students Solve, Analyze Complex Problems at DataFest

Students from Wesleyan, Trinity College, Connecticut College, Yale University and the University of Connecticut participated in the American Statistical Association DataFest, hosted at Wesleyan in April. 

Students from Wesleyan, Trinity College, Connecticut College, Yale University and the University of Connecticut participated in the American Statistical Association DataFest, hosted at Wesleyan in April. (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Three teams from Wesleyan received honors during the American Statistical Association DataFest, hosted at Wesleyan April 8-10.

During DataFest, students are presented with a large, complex, surprise data set and work over the weekend to explore, analyze, and present their findings. Teams of three to five undergraduate students from Wesleyan, Trinity, Connecticut College, Yale, and the University of Connecticut competed against each other.

After two days of intense data wrangling, analysis and presentation design, each team was allowed only five minutes and no more than two slides to impress a panel of judges.

The event, coordinated by Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center, is part of a set of initiatives to strengthen quantitative reasoning and facilitate computational and data analysis work across the curriculum. It is designed to bring together current students, alumni and data analysis professionals as they work together in addressing real world problems that involve computational data work.

The event also provided an opportunity for recruiters to connect with students who are interested and skilled in data analysis, and may be candidates for internships or job openings.

Wesleyan team 1,588,506 received the "Best in Show" award. Teammates included Jack Gorman ’19, Samara Prywes ’17 and Tiffany Coons ’18,

Wesleyan team 1,588,506 received the “Best in Show” award. Teammates included Jack Gorman ’19, Samara Prywes ’17 and Tiffany Coons ’18,

Wesleyan Announces New Data Science Specialization on Coursera

Jennifer Rose (shown here) and Lisa Dierker are leading a new specialization in data science on Coursera.

Wesleyan faculty Jennifer Rose, pictured above, and Lisa Dierker are leading a new specialization in data science on Coursera.

This month, Wesleyan will launch a new specialization on Coursera in the rapidly growing field of data science. The four-MOOC (massive open online course) sequence, together with a final capstone project, will offer learners a verified certificate of completion that they may share with prospective or current employers.

Wesleyan’s specialization, Data Analysis and Interpretation, is one of more than 30 new business, computer science, and data science specializations starting on Coursera on Sept. 15. (Learn more on Coursera’s blog.)

Wesleyan is continually expanding its offerings on Coursera, and in January 2016, plans to introduce a new Creative Writing specialization.

Keegan ’16 Studies Real Estate in the Quantitative Analysis Center

Phoebe Keegan ’16, an economics major from Palisades, N.Y., has been passionate about real estate since she was a young child. She passed the exam to get her real estate license in New York at age 18, the youngest age allowed. After coming to Wesleyan, she also became a licensed agent at William Raveis in Middletown.

This summer, Keegan worked at the Quantitative Analysis Center with Assistant Professor of Economics Karl Boulware to analyze data from the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, specifically looking at conditions before and after the rezoning of downtown Brooklyn. They are studying how rezoning affected occupancies in Brooklyn as well as gentrification issues.

“I am really thankful that I came here because I didn’t know how much of an incredible place it was,” said Keegan. “The community is truly special.”