Student-led workshops: Filling skills gaps in computational research for life scientists

Katherine LaTourrette, Ashley Stengel, Jennifer Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Computational skills are increasingly important for conducting research in the agricultural and natural sciences. However, barriers to training availability and accessibility have left many life scientists under-prepared. To address these challenges, we developed a workshop series led by graduate students to cover topics relevant to research needs among life scientists. Our workshops incorporated guided practice to facilitate a student-centered learning environment. Further, in response to changes mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop series was converted to a virtual format and extended to life science researchers beyond our home institution. We highlight how to effectively structure workshops to develop computational skills and adapt in-person activities to the virtual environment. Survey data shows our workshops reached a highly diverse group of scientists, representing more than eight departments, in both in-person and virtual renditions. Further, we demonstrate an increase in self-reported confidence in student abilities to apply concepts to their own research following content delivery. This increase was facilitated in both virtual and in-person environments, showing that adapting content for online delivery is capable of supporting student learning gains. The success of this workshop series shows the importance of hands-on, guided practice in developing computational skills to fill gaps in training in the agricultural and natural sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20052
JournalNatural Sciences Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science
  • Soil Science
  • Education


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