Economics and Data Science Undergraduate Course with John Gasper

(music) I see lots of students kind of learning statistical theory, but
not really understanding how to actually do any of it. So, this is a very hands on class about how do you actually
perform some of these results. How do you go about improving
your visualizations? We start with a question first, and then try to find a data set, and almost always, the data
set is not clean and pretty like you’re used to dealing with. So, a lot of the class
has to deal with kind of getting the form
that is much more usable so that you can answer the question you’re trying to deal with. In terms of what the
students are actually doing, they’re spending a lot of time
in front of their computer trying to code stuff up and get the data into a kind of a clean, usable format. And then, choose the right analysis to answer their question. And then, try to convey their
results to someone else. It’s structured as a lecture with very kind of frequent Q and A. I’ll teach or I’ll lecture a little bit, and then kind of demonstrate
how something is done. And then, it’ll be a
problem where everyone has their laptops in front of them. And, they’re trying to solve it. And then, they respond via clickers or some kind of electronic device. So, it’s kind of a very
back and forth lecture, but integrated with
kind of problem solving kind of every 20, 30
minutes, something like that. They choose their final projects, so a lot of the methods are
taught around different policies or different empirical questions
which might motivate them. And then, their final project
is completely self chosen, right, so, they’re group projects, but they get to choose
whatever they want to work on. So, the final projects
have a range from analyzing vote turnout at the county
level for the 2016 election to predicting Walmart sales at the kind of weekly level around the US. So, I think students, kind of, enjoyed that they were do not just a toy data set, but a real data set
with real implications. The skillset that they’re
learning is really applicable. There are lots of different things outside of just purely economics. Having a data skill and being
able to analyze a problem and make data-informed decisions is one of the most valuable
things that we can teach them, and that’s what they learn in this class. (music)

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