Data Management Lab Pilot – Feedback summary

The overall take-aways:

  • Eight hours of data management is too much! Even though we only had seven due to extreme weather issues. Several suggested that more time overall would be better, but that individual sessions should be no longer than 4 hours.
  • The case was too broad and vague. (The uncertainty that I thought would reflect and raise real world issues was just too complicated to address in the available timeframe. Too much uncertainty + too little time = stress. We know stress is not conducive to learning. One potential solution to this is to leave the overall case somewhat open ended, but specify further details for individual exercises so attendees can focus on the learning goals at hand.)
  • Not enough time was provided for the exercises. One suggested providing at least 15 minutes each because it takes time to get oriented to the task.
  • More examples, more examples, more examples!
  • More information about local resources.
  • Significant portions of the storage and security section can be cut. What they really need to know is what issues impact security, which of our systems to use, and who to contact if they need help. (My thoughts – the data stories should provide concrete examples and motivation to pay attention to these issues.)
  • One attendee suggested that organizing files and naming conventions, file formats, and data sharing can be covered in less time. I am not sure that I agree with this, but I may not have conveyed the importance of these practices clearly.

There was some confusion during the lab about the purpose of the DMP for the exercises. Do the exercises reflect the plan completed during proposal development, fleshed out during project start-up, or as a working document throughout active phases of the study. In my mind, it is all of those things. But for the purposes of teaching and given the structure of the workshop, I think it is most useful to think of it as the former. So many of the potential issues and disasters can be prevented with careful planning, that walking researchers through the planning phase is the best place to start and can have the greatest impact on their research.

As I refine the curriculum and exercises for the next iteration (March – April), the materials and exercises will be shared here.

(Edits: Minor changes in formatting 2/11/14)

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By Heather L. Coates

2 comments on “Data Management Lab Pilot – Feedback summary

  1. Congrats on completing the first pilot! It sounds like it went well, and what you shares is all very constructive feedback. I just sent out an evaluation survey for the first 4 weeks of my grad course, and I am excited but nervous to read “the reviews.” Can’t be too hard on ourselves given that these are the first times we’ve offered instruction like this (your pilot and my course), but am hoping that the students at least feel like their time hasn’t been wasted. I’m really looking forward to reviewing your materials, as I think they complement parts of what I’m doing, too.

    I still struggle with the assessment piece. Do we need to assess every learning outcome, or just the “major” ones? Can I use their final DMPs as a “catch-all” to assess how well they “got” the major topics in the course? Oh, what an adventure we are on…

    • Thanks! I feel like it is uncharted territory with too many unknowns, but I’m hoping that the assessment questionnaires will answer some of those initial scope and delivery questions that I have. I will definitely be posting the assessment materials once they are revised. The DMP ended up being a bigger product than I anticipated, but things like the data outcomes map reflect a thought process that could be part of the data management plan, or not. I’m trying not to introduce too much uncertainty; there is enough of that in the research process as it is!

      I’m looking forward to hearing more about how the assessments match up with your impressions. I tend to be overly critical when I’m teaching as compared to student assessments, but I also have a clearer idea of what I want them to learn than they do. I love it when I get constructive criticism because it means they were somewhat engaged.

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