Collaboration and Teamwork

Collaboration and Teamwork#

This class emphasizes the role of social interaction in constructing knowledge and learning how to do data science. This is motivated both by teaching philosophy and the goal of giving you professional skills training — in your future career, it’s almost inevitable that you will at times work as part of a team, and ultimately teams of people working in a coordinated fashion can achieve much more than an individual.

Collaboration is thus encouraged, even outside of team projects. The class features weekly “demo days” where students will demonstrate to others how they solved different problems, but even less formally, you are encouraged to communicate with other members of the class to share knowledge. The class provides a communication platform (Slack) to support and encourage this.

Of course, this is still a university course and each student is expected to take responsibility for their own learning, and be able to demonstrate their knowledge. So while in the short term it might be easy enough to copy work among a few people, if you don’t understand the code, your lack of understanding will eventually become evident. There will be various opportunities to demonstrate your unique, personal knowledge and understanding of the course material, including aspects of assignments that ask you to describe your personal process for completing the assignment, your demo day presentations, and self-assessments. As well, team projects involve peer assessments, wherein each team member evaluates the contributions of the other team members. If you haven’t mastered the material leading up to the team projects, you will not be able to make meaningful contributions, and you should not expect your team members to cover for you.

Note that while collaboration on most aspects of the course work is optional (however encouraged), the two major projects are necessarily team work. Team work can sometimes be great, and other times can create friction (or sometimes, both!). Learning to work effectively in a team is a course learning outcome, and this includes learning to communicate and work effectively, and mediate conflict if necessary. This course is designed to provide you with lots of opportunities to get to know your classmates prior to the team projects, which will hopefully help you select a team that you feel you can work effectively with.