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Haverford College, January 6-8, 2020

Application deadline: November 27, 2019


Spend three focused days in a collegial and supportive environment, writing an original "soup-to-nuts" exercise.


Serve yourself and your students by developing a new exercise that you can use in your own classes.


And serve the public good by contributing the exercise to an open-access repository being created by Project TIER.



Soup-to-nuts exercises

Soup-to-nuts exercises are lab projects or homework assignments that guide students through the key steps of data processing and analysis involved in writing an original research paper: from the very beginning when they first access the source data for a project, through cleaning and processing the data to prepare them for analysis, to the analysis that generates the results presented in a written report. Their distinguishing characteristics are that:

  • They emphasize quantitative research methods that ensure transparency and reproducibility.
  • They can be completed in a short time—as little as a single lab or class period, and no more than about two weeks.

Soup-to-nuts exercises are designed primarily for instructors who wish to introduce their students to essential principles and practices of reproducible research, but face time or resource constraints that make it impossible to assign full-blown, semester-long research projects.

In addition, for classes in which students do write independent research papers, assigning one or two soup-to-nuts exercises at the beginning of the semester is an effective way of introducing them to the reproducible methods they will be following as they conduct research for their own projects over the course of the semester.

Project TIER is launching an initiative to create an open-access repository of soup-to-nuts exercises. The vision is to develop a collection of exercises that can be adapted for use in a variety of educational contexts (e.g., large or small classes, introductory or advanced level, individual or group assignments), and that represent a wide range of disciplines, topics, types of data, and analytical methods. Our goal is to create a repository of diverse, ready-to-use curricular materials that will encourage instructors to incorporate principles of transparent and reproducible research into their quantitative methods courses.

A prototype soup-to-nuts exercise, which we refer to as the Alcohol Exercise, provides a complete example.

The retreat

Every participant at the retreat will write an original soup-to-nuts exercise.

The application asks candidates to describe the exercises they would propose to write at the retreat. We expect that participants will choose to write exercises based on assignments they have previously used in their classes, but that need to be developed further to fulfill the purposes of soup-to-nuts exercises. Proposals for de novo exercises are also welcome.

The exercises produced at the retreat will be added to Project TIER's soup-to-nuts repository, and will in fact constitute an important early contribution to the development of the collection. Participants will of course also be able to use the exercises they write at the retreat in their own future classes.

The agenda for the retreat is likely to evolve as planning moves forward, but the outline we have in mind is as follows:

  • The first morning of the retreat will be an introduction to soup-to-nuts exercises: purposes and scope, key features, and format. This introduction will include some presentations by the facilitators, as well as open discussion among all participants.
  • The afternoon of the first day, the entire second day, and the morning of the third day will be the main writing phase of the retreat (with opportunities both for individual time spent writing and for interaction among participants and facilitators).
  • On the afternoon of the last day, participants will give brief presentations of their exercises, and discuss challenges they faced and lessons they learned while writing them.

The goal is that by the end of the retreat, each participant will have completed an original soup-to-nuts exercise.

The environment

The three days of the event will offer a balance between opportunities for interaction and collegiality with other participants and facilitators, and uninterrupted time for writing in a distraction-free environment.

To promote collaboration and interaction, there will be organized sessions at which participants review and provide feedback on each other's work. In addition, three consultant/mentors will be on hand to provide guidance to participants individually or in small groups. The residential nature of the retreat—participants will stay in guest rooms on the Haverford College campus and gather together for most meals—will also provide opportunities for informal interactions.

For the times participants spend writing their individual exercises, comfortable, distraction-free work spaces (with coffee and other refreshments available nearby) will be available.

Facilitators

The retreat is being organized by the two Project TIER Directors, Richard Ball and Norm Medeiros.

They will be joined by three consultant/mentors, who will be on hand to provide support and guidance to participants throughout the retreat.

  • Tomas Dvorak, Professor of Economics, Union College
  • Anne Nurse, Professor of Sociology, College of Wooster
  • David Vera, Associate Professor of Economics, California State University, Fresno

Logistics

The retreat will take place at Haverford College, and run from 9:00 am on Monday, January 6 through 5:00 pm on Wednesday, January 8.

Fees: There is no fee for the retreat.

Lodging: Lodging (in single guest rooms on the Haverford campus) will be provided to participants at no cost.

Meals: All meals during the workshop will be provided at no cost.

Travel: Since the retreat starts at 9:00 am on January 6, we anticipate that participants will need to arrive at Haverford by the evening of January 5.

When the retreat ends at 5:00 pm on January 8, participants are free to travel home or to stay at Haverford an extra night and travel on January 9.

We ask participants to seek support from their home institutions to cover costs of travel to and from Haverford. When that is not possible, limited funds are available from Project TIER to help defray travel costs. (Requests for travel support can be made on the application for the retreat. Requesting support for travel costs will not affect an applicant's chances of being accepted to participate in the retreat.)

Application

There is space at the retreat for up to twelve participants.

The application asks candidates to describe the exercises they would like to write at the retreat, and participants will be selected primarily on the strength of these proposals. Broadly adaptable exercises are welcome, but exercises targeted for use in particular contexts (defined, for example, by discipline, subject matter, or analytical method) are also fine. Highest priority will be given to proposals that are well enough developed that it will be feasible for the participants to complete them by the end of the three-day retreat.

We expect that most participants will be faculty members who teach courses (in any discipline) involving quantitative methods or applied statistical analysis. But faculty status is not a requirement; we welcome applications from anyone who has a good exercise to propose.

More information about the nature and purposes of soup-to-nuts exercises are available in this pdf document.

Please apply using this on-line form.

Applications are due on Wednesday, November 27.

Acceptance decisions will be sent out by Friday, December 6.