So you've already made it to the REU! What can you expect over the summer? What do we expect of you?

1 REU Site Description

The primary goal of this inter-disciplinary REU Site program is to expose undergraduate students to advanced topics in analytics, data mining, and visualization techniques as applied to data from the education domain. Students will participate in projects with the central theme of improving instructional technology design, enhancing academic curricula and modeling learning experiences. This focus on education-centered analysis will provide the participating undergraduate students a deeper understanding of both general data mining techniques and a broader taste for educational design. This REU Site program will make it a priority to engage and recruit under-represented minorities and women to pursue multi-disciplinary careers that transcend computer science and educational sciences. Careful student-student and student-mentor(s) pairings, as well as opportunities for developing organically formed partnerships will foster an inclusive academic culture.

2 Learning Outcomes

  • Students will interact via open-ended research immersion projects.
  • Students will learn the importance of communication in inter-disciplinary team based research.
  • Students will gain experience conveying research ideas through required project reports and presentations.
  • Students will learn advanced data mining and visualization methods, theory and practice of applying them to real-world problems.

3 Trainings

  • Tutorials We will have multiple tutorials to help you get started in using the languages and techniques that may be useful over the summer.
    • Data Mining Tutorials these talks focus on the basic concepts and goals of data mining, introducing tools and techniques that will be useful in students' projects.
    • Visualization Tutorial this talk introduces ideas and best practices in visualizing data. These concepts will be useful in students' eventual research artifacts.
    • Python Tutorials not everyone has programmed in Python; it is a common choice of language for some data mining communities, so we will help everyone get up to speed in the language itself.
  • Colloquia multiple guest presentations by experts discussing their current work.
  • OSCAR workshops As they become available, we will send you to multiple workshops (through OSCAR) to help you refine your sense of what research is and how to navigate this new academic area.
    • Reading Papers A talk on how to read through research papers and critique them. This also includes understanding how, and why, we cite sources.
    • What does it mean to pursue an unanswered question? Students begin their summer with a discussion on the broader activity of scholarly inquiry.
    • Research Ethics this talk will cover common questions and concerns about performing research ethically
    • How to Present Your Research this talk will cover the basics of giving a presentation, including making a poster for poster sessions. Plans include time to play with templates and get hands-on experience.
    • Career Preparation General career preparation discussion.

4 Deliverables

4.1 Blogs

We want each of you to create and maintain a blog throughout the summer. We will have a prompt for you to respond to each week, but we do encourage you to check in more frequently as you see fit. Slowly building up a web presence can help you down the road.

If you already have a blog that's fine to (re)use it; if not, we suggest using Google Sites as an easy setup:

4.2 Papers

We want each of you to experience the paper-writing process. We will have various deadlines to write out various sections, such as literature review, methods, and so on. Research can be messy and unpredictable - that's okay! But this framework will help you walk through the whole process in an orderly fashion. Whether you feel after ten weeks that you have changed the world of academia forever, or just know what you would do in the next ten weeks, we want everyone to have a paper with the usual sections, detailing the work done over the summer. We'd love if you are far enough along to submit it for publishing, or if you are interested in continuing the work into the Fall and then submit the work somewhere, but if that doesn't happen, we are still satisfied with a solid draft that records your summer efforts.

4.3 Presentations

At the end of the summer, we will have three main presentations to fulfill.

4.3.1 Poster Presentation

Coordinated with our friends in OSCAR. (There will be a hundred or so different posters). This is a valuable skill to learn how to condense your work down to the bare minimum, showcase the things you want as launching points into the discussions you hope to have.

4.3.2 Video Presentation

A 2-minute pre-recorded video presentation to tell the world about your project. Provide an overview of what you solved, challenge met and results. Linked to Youtube.

4.3.3 Summer Guild Presentation

We are starting up a new program here at GMU that encourages women to experience and consider technology fields for their majors. As part of their one-week activities, we'd love for you to be able to share your own projects as examples of where these students could see themselves in a couple of years. It is also great practice communicating your work to an audience that is outside of the exact area of your research.

4.3.4 Final Project Draft

This is the end-of-REU state of your resesarch paper. We want you to have an end-of-"term" target so that you have written up the work performed, answered your research question as best you can, and perhaps you can mention as future work the things you'd like to do next, whether that happens post-REU or not.

4.4 Surveys

As part of your acceptance, we asked you to agree to participate in various surveys that are related to the REU site. Some are administered to all REU sites nationally, and others we are doing in-house to get specific feedback from you. All the surveys will keep your identity anonymized from the staff running our REU site here, though some may keep your name/email associated with responses so they can pair before/after responses.

  • participate in all surveys.

5 Social

Throughout the summer, we want you to have fun too! Based on participants' preferences, we can get together online and have social activities - perhaps watch parties or other get togethers as you'd like. If things are lightening up, we may try to have the occasional near-campus event too, as there are a lot of us in the vicinity. All will hopefully help build in some good memories and make it more fun to see each other in "work mode" too.

6 Campus Resources

  • OSCAR (The Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research) is a great resource for helping students reach their potential. We will work with them throughout the summer, finding many opportunities on campus.
  • The MIX is Mason's own Maker Space, where you can collaborate and work on projects together. The second floor here is also a great place for group meetups.
  • One Button Studio is a simple station to record a brief descriptive talk, and get a video file of it placed on a USB drive. Great for creating short videos.