The next Faculty Development Workshop will take place at Haverford College in October or November 2019. Details and an application will be posted in August.

About Project TIER Faculty Development Workshops

Project TIER's Faculty Development Workshops are designed for college and university educators who are interested in integrating principles of transparency and reproducibility into quantitative methods courses and research training.

The workshops introduce participants to protocols for conducting and documenting empirical research that ensure the reproducibility of all computational results, and then present a range of pedagogical strategies and curricular resources for teaching these methods to students in a variety of educational settings.

The objective is to help instructors develop plans for teaching reproducible research practices that will be feasible and effective in their particular contexts, so that they are fully prepared to implement the methods presented at the workshops when they return to their home institutions.

Participants will also be introduced to opportunities to collaborate--with Project TIER or other allied initiatives--in the development and dissemination of curricular resources for practicing and teaching transparent research methods. The ultimate goal is to foster the development of a community of educators committed to the idea that transparency and reproducibility should be integrated into all levels of research training for students in quantitative fields.

Who can benefit from attending a workshop?

The workshops are intended to serve:

  • Faculty who teach courses involving statistics and data analysis, and/or supervise student research.
  • Staff of libraries, interdisciplinary centers for research and education, or IT departments with responsibility for training or support of student research.
  • Graduate students and post-docs who currently serve as instructors or TAs, or anticipate doing so in the future.
  • Any other individuals in a position to use the methods presented at the workshops in some way that promotes transparent and reproducible methods in the research training of students in quantitative fields.

Individuals who teach or advise quantitative research methods are welcome, regardless of their disciplines. Most participants in past workshops have been social scientists, but the number of individuals from departments of mathematics, statistics, and the natural sciences has been growing. Further increases in the diversity of the disciplines represented at the workshops would be welcome.

Project TIER is committed to serving members of underrepresented minorities, women, and low-income and first-generation college students. Individuals whose teaching and advising will reach a large number of students belonging to these groups are especially encouraged to apply.

Workshop content

The program of the workshops typically include:

  • Workflows for reproducible research. Two general approaches to reproducible research will be presented:
    --The TIER Protocol: The TIER Protocol is based on a research style that has been and remains prevalent in the social sciences, but introduces standards of documentation that ensure transparency. This approach emphasizes the importance of constructing replication documentation incrementally throughout all phases of a research project, and preserving scripts containing commands that execute every step of data processing and analysis underlying the results of a study.
    --Dynamic documents: This workflow involves writing a single document containing the text of a report (in some version of a markup language), with chunks of statistical code inserted; sending this document to a processor renders a formatted report with the output generated by the statistical code inserted as specified by the author. This approach was first developed by data scientists, but is rapidly gaining popularity in many quantitative fields.
  • Teaching strategies. Discussion of strategies for teaching students to conduct research using these reproducible research methods, and of how these strategies can be adapted to serve in diverse environments--differing, for example, in class size, preparedness of students, access to data and computing resources, and the amount of time available to devote to reproducibility.
  • File-sharing platforms. Demonstrations of one or more file-sharing platforms (e.g., Dropbox, OSF, GitHub, etc.), and of how they can be used to radically transform the nature of collaboration among students working on projects together as well as communication between instructors and students.
  • Pedagogical benefits. Discussion of the benefits of teaching reproducible research methods. These benefits have to do both with developing the professional skills of the next generation of researchers, and with reinforcing fundamental principles of inquiry, argument, and integrity that are essential elements in the education of all students, regardless of their later career paths.
  • Learning from the diverse experience of workshop participants. The agenda will include time for participants to share lessons they have learned from their experiences teaching research methods, and to help each other develop strategies for meeting their goals for the future. There will be opportunities for participants to give brief, informal presentations about their experiences teaching research methods, and to share syllabi, exercises or other materials they have created or used in their teaching or research supervision.

Software requirements

The workshop will be software-neutral, in the sense that all the methods presented can be implemented with any programmable statistical package--e.g., Stata, R, SPSS, SAS, Matlab, and many others. Of necessity, the demonstrations and examples will be conducted with particular programs, but they are easily adapted to any other programmable package.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite this neutrality with respect to which particular software is used, the use of some programmable statistical package is essential. The methods presented at the workshop are not applicable in settings in which students work with their data in Excel or other spreadsheets, or in which students rely on the drop-down menus available in some programs.

Instructors whose students use spreadsheets or drop-down menus, but who wish to wean them from those tools and teach them to work with editable scripts instead, are welcome at the workshops. For instructors in situations in which switching from spreadsheets and drop-down menus to editable scripts is undesirable or impossible, the workshops have little to offer.