Advice from students
I asked students finishing this class "What should students know when they start the class?" and here is what they said
The first one is kinda long but also poetic:
"Do all the work, no matter how much you struggle. You will not understand a lot of it. Maybe you'll come in with some great knowledge and some concepts will "click" sooner than others. That's great. But then you'll get lost. Some new idea will pop up out of nowhere and leave you in math-land far away from any place you've ever been and there aren't any landmarks and all the road signs are illegible and no one around knows anything about how to get out of there either. When you get to that land, fall to the ground and kiss it. That is where you will learn most. You will learn by translating every letter of every sign yourself and following a winding path to where you want to go. You will get lost and go in circles and curse every sign you come across because
'god dammit what do you mean you dumb sign why won't you tell me what I want? What does this error code even mean? What is a Poisson distribution? I feel like we already passed that sign and I don't remember but I don't want to go all the way back and ask... Wow I'm tired and this is hard.'
"You may have all of those thoughts at one point or another. And yes, it will be hard. But everyone else in the class wants you to succeed unless they're [jerks], which they probably aren't, and there are many resources to help get you through it. If you need help, ask."
The rest is shorter but no less valuable. Here are some other people recommending you ask questions, all of the questions.
"Ask questions that don't necessarily have to do with statistics or analysis, but more about what is lectured about and the big picture of analysis and development. The answers for those are much more satisfying and worthwhile."
"From this class, you can understand how to find what you want to do with your life, simply because it is taught by someone who is passionate about their work. This class will inspire you to want to find the same motivation and curiosity for something that Damian has for his work and classes."
"Please, for the love of anything, talk to the professor and your fellow students about how to do the code if you're struggling with it. There are so many questions that I thought were stupid, but are pretty typical of a person that does not have experience working with code, and whether or not someone could take a second look at my work and give me feedback on them was the biggest difference to how much I learned in this class."
"Students need to have some sort of reflection early in the semester where they can self-assess how they learn and think about what their game plan will be when they get stressed out. This class did have a lot of stress involved. While I was able to find ways for it to work for myself, I wish I had figured out ways earlier so I didn't have those moments of panic. I recognize that those moments were great learning tools, but for some students, this might not be the right experience and providing them early with a self-reflected game plan might be the most beneficial way for them to know how to handle those moments of stress."
Some of the advice has to do with what you do out of class, what you do long before deadlines.
"I would suggest that they review the material learned in class - even if they just look at the code and explain to themselves what each step is doing. Additionally, starting homework earlier in the week if possible. That ensures that you are able to ask specific questions in class. Also, when writing the one-page paper reports throughout the semester - really try to envision how what you write will help you to pull together a final proposal at the end."
"I think the biggest advice I could give would be to put more work into the data organization / analysis for the paper early on, because it is so nice to have that time and freedom later on to really ask the questions you want to. It is amazing how, even months into the semester, I continued to find weird little challenges in my dataset that I wish I would've explored earlier. Also, use the online S & W examples!! Always helpful."
"Plan out the reading accordingly--some chapters are 100 pages, other are 20! You will fall greatly behind so quickly once you get off the readings. When doing the readings, can mostly skip the parts about errors--usually goes above my head anyhow. Always dissect code as best as you can, and make nice annotated Homeworks to refer back to (both in this class and for beyond this class). Above all, always keep an ear on what Damian is saying to anyone."
"Practice RStudio outside of class. Look up methods of how to code certain formulas and models online."