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Statistics in Warsaw

Statistics in Warsaw

First Statistical Teaching and Analytic Research Training workshop returns from Poland

Given the increasingly connected nature of the world, some might hypothesize that the probability of researchers who will work in an international context at some point in their career is quite high.

This summer, eight graduate students from the University of Delaware’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Education and Human Development participated in UD’s pilot of the Statistical Teaching and Analytic Research Training (START) workshop at the University of Warsaw in Poland.

With an explicit focus on diversity and inclusion, the program identified “a racial-ethnically, gender, intellectual, and nationally diverse group of students to participate,” said David Wilson, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Aimed at not only helping students brush up on their understanding of statistics, but also to give them a window into an international work environment, the program paired each student with a Polish counterpart.

“We really wanted to give graduate students an opportunity to go abroad, interact with each other, interact with our international partners, and to get an experience that was statistically oriented,” said Agnes Ly, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and coordinator of the program.

The one-week program, sponsored by the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, George Watson, and the vice provost for diversity, Carol Henderson, featured daily workshops on data management and statistical analysis, and the opportunity to complete and present a final collaborative research project.

Through the project, students were challenged to branch out from the confines of their disciplines. “Many teams had general interests, found where they intersected and decided whether the dataset would even allow them to look at the particular questions,” said Ly. “I think it helped them think a little more about using their research interests but also opening up to other ideas of how that interest could be expanded. That is where I saw the most growth.”

Ly added that the experience encouraged students to practice both intercultural and interpersonal communication skills. “I think one of the things we forget when we are training our next generation of researchers is that we never do research by ourselves,” she said. “A lot of the hard work of research is collaborating with many other people with very particular backgrounds of training and particular desires of how they want the research to go.”

In addition to classroom learning, students took a day to visit and tour the Museum of the History of Polish Jews with Mikolaj Winiewski, where they discussed how perceptions of history affect modern day issues. 

“I have a much deeper understanding of the history of the city of Warsaw and the impact that World War II left behind,” said Ashley Lewis, an urban affairs and public policy student, who added that the group also toured the area of the former Warsaw Ghetto as part of the day.

For some, the program was also their first time traveling outside of the United States.

“I chose to apply to the START program because I sought an opportunity that would teach me something far beyond what I would learn in the classroom,” Lewis said. “I had never studied abroad prior to participating in START and was determined to experience learning in another country before completing my master's degree.”

Proposals are now being accepted for 2017 START Program faculty liaisons, who will facilitate and coordinate next summer’s workshop abroad.

“We hope that this is an opportunity for what makes for a ‘Delaware difference’ in graduate education,” said Wilson, who has led the START initiative.

Those interested in participating in or co-leading a future START workshop should contact David Wilson or Agnes Ly.


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