Hybrid teaching of Intro to Data Science in times of the Coronavirus at CDS

It’s been more than a full year since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and we’ve all had to find ways to go on with our lives in the safest way possible. Life at CDS is no exception. Over the past year we’ve implemented a hybrid instruction model that integrated online delivery (like last summer’s asynchronous Data Science for Everyone) with socially distanced in-person lectures.

One of our flagship courses, Intro to Data Science, has had great success in the socially distanced format. Here’s a small glimpse into what it is like to be a student in the course as taught by Professor Pascal Wallisch:

An Intro to Data Science session this semester introducing the concept of degrees of freedom to understand the t-test

along with students who prefer an online delivery mode. During the in-person sessions, all students, and the instructor, sit at least six feet apart and everyone in attendance is required to wear a mask and pass a screening test before being granted access to the building.

This combination of preventative measures has been extremely successful in minimizing the risk of viral transmission — to date, there are no reports of classroom acquired infections — while letting our students benefit from learning from their professor in-person.

But what makes Intro to Data Science so effective in this format? The instruction! Professor Wallisch says that instructional methods like calling on individual students, asking Socratic questions, using relevant examples and making the classes as interactive as possible all are important to keeping students engaged. While Wallisch tries to minimize viral contagion, he banks on the documented effects of social contagion in the classroom. In other words, be passionate about what you do, as this is likely to spread.

We at CDS are so happy and proud to see that the passion for Data Science has not been hampered by the trials and tribulations imposed by the ongoing pandemic. As the Spring semester rolls on, we’re excited to watch our students engage and learn from our talented faculty in a safe environment!

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