IOE Experts Take Part in Summer Schools in England and the Netherlands
Young scholars Anastasia Kapuza and Galina Larina, who teach in IOE’s Measurements in Psychology and Education Master’s program, traveled to England and the Netherlands this summer to join international schools for multidisciplinary social researchers at Essex University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “The schools have provided a host of insights about today’s top-notch approaches to social data analysis and interpretation, and we are absolutely thrilled to be sharing this expertise with IOE students in the new academic year,” Anastasia and Galina say.
Causation Experiments and Statistics with R
With its story spanning as long as half a century, the annual Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis has for years been recognized as a top-caliber international learning venue of unique scale and academic diversity. The school brings together hundreds of professionals with various backgrounds and at different career level, including doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, practitioners and strategists, and the world’s most prominent institutional experts, in a string of vibrant sessions addressing a multitude of today’s most pressing social science agendas.
By virtue of its long-established history and world-class faculty, the Essex Summer School consistently enjoys excellent academic organization and offers a most engaging curriculum. What is more, enrollees are afforded plenty of opportunities for edifying and memorable pastime, as they can take advantage of numerous open lectures on the latest breakthroughs in specialist research areas, startling tours of the hi-tech but cozy Essex University Campus, enchanting strolls along the picturesque and relaxing routes of Wivenhoe, and a lot more.
The School consists of three modules best tailored to suit the learning needs of students at different proficiency level. Module One, for instance, gives introductory coverage of core theoretical and practical concepts in social data analysis, while Module Three is about getting immersed into the most advanced analytical systems and approaches. I enrolled in Module Two, which is intermediate difficulty, where I chose the course entitled Identifying Causation through Experimental & Quasi-Experimental Research.
The course shares much in common with the respective part in IOE’s Measurements in Psychology and Education Master’s, but what really sets the former apart is its special emphasis on methodology. The learning also involved a great deal of math, as indispensable for understanding what actually makes different methods for conducting causal inference in social sciences tick, whether it is practical enough to use this or that method under given circumstances, as well as to comprehensively evaluate the pros and cons of various quantitative frameworks.
What I really liked about the course is that the training was amply supported by multidisciplinary data, including vivid examples from political science, social studies and education. The students were also encouraged to take the floor with their own illustrations, which definitely added relevance to the learning.
Our seminars involved hands-on data analysis tasks using the R statistical computing environment – a completely new experience for most of my classmates and me, so another challenge was to try and grasp the software interface you are novice to as quickly as possible. I would like to thank our instructor, Dr. James Lo of Princeton University, for the consistent encouragement and valuable advice he was so generous to be providing throughout the course.
Twin Research, Genetics and Human Lifepaths
Each summer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) offers aspiring young scholars from across the globe an abundance of fast tracks in areas ranging from postcolonial European studies to Unix-based big data systems.
IOE researcher and instructor Galina Larina was traveling to Amsterdam this August to take up VU’s brand-new multidisciplinary course entitled Nature and Nurture: Twin Research and Human Genetics, a joint initiative between VU’s Department of Biopsychology and the Netherlands Twin Register.
Building on frontline expertise of world-distinguished experts in genetics, twin research and biopsychology, including Dr. Dorret I. Boomsma, Dr. Eco J. C. de Geus, Dr. Conor Dolan and Dr. Hamdi Mbarek, the course provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to delve into today’s best-practice data-based approaches to analyzing genetic and environmental factors that determine personality profiles and social trajectories.
I was very much looking forward to joining this new summer track by VU, and I should honestly say the academic experience I got has exceeded my expectations.
Our learning was mostly focused on two areas: twin research and genome-wide association studies, GWAS. Twin research is about identifying and looking into distinctions between genetic and environment-attributed factors that shape individual human properties, including cognitive abilities, personality traits and educational achievements. GWAS, in turn, aims to explore correlations between single DNA elements and the physiomental characteristics they determine, such as proneness to diseases, addictions, etc.
Of the track’s broad theoretical and practical agenda, I got particularly interested in methods for analyzing genome–environmental interplays in the formation of personality differences, as well as the prospects of environment-wide association studies.
I would note that the course I was doing involved a great deal of advanced learning, this making it really challenging, but at the same time enabling a way deeper and more comprehensive insights into the field. It was entirely thanks to the excellent delivery and step-by-step practical explanations by the school’s brilliant instructors that we would always find ourselves comfortable mastering the program.