In this post, The Coding Club team describe how funding from the Student Partnership Agreement has helped them create a fun and supportive community where staff and students develop programming and statistics skills together…
When it comes to quantitative skills, confidence is just as important as what you know. The Coding Club initiative is trying to instill confidence in student learners at the University of Edinburgh so that they can become the teachers of tomorrow.
Coding Club combines online and in-person resources to help teach quantitative skills to ecologists at all career stages. We want to overcome the fear factor by building a sense of community around the development of skills. Our goal is to overcome “code fear” and “statistics anxiety”. Statistics anxiety – the worry about a lack of quantitative skills – and code fear – the fear of programming – can hold students back in their studies and careers.
We focus on peer-to-peer teaching and learning. We have moved away from the professor-student model, allowing everyone to engage as teachers and learners. All of our teaching materials are developed by people who are actively learning quantitative skills at the same time as teaching them. We avoid hierarchy (though we love content on hierarchical modelling!), and encourage participation across different career stages from undergrad students through to PhD students, postdocs and staff.
Developing a sense of community was at the core of our Student Partnership Agreement project. This project provided Ecological and Environmental Sciences programme undergraduates, Claudia Meca van den Berg, Sam Kellerhals and Izzy Rich, the opportunity to teach, code collaboratively, and contribute to online learning materials. For these three students, participating in Coding Club has opened up job opportunities at the interface of ecology, environmental studies and data science.
I don’t think I realised just how much Coding Club played an integral role in shaping my academic life until I graduated. Coding Club offers a unique learning environment in a transdisciplinary and non-hierarchical setting. This allowed me to develop skills which I have put to a surprising amount of good use, first in my job, and now in my postgraduate degree.
– Claudia Meca van den Berg, BSc Ecological and Environmental Sciences alumna
Developing quantitative skills can be a daunting task, and there can be many hurdles along the way. What we have learned across the four years of the Coding Club initiative is that confidence helps to overcome the fear factor turning students into life-long learners. For undergraduate students, such as Claudia, Sam and Izzy, having the opportunity to share and teach others has built their own confidence and propelled them into their future careers.