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Data Science Doesn't Belong In Business Schools
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dmatheny620
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dmatheny620,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2013 | 12:06:13 PM
Relevancy is the goal
Relevancy is all important.  As long as math departments continue to teach Statistics and not applied Data Science, business and other non-math students will continue to scratch their heads about why they are learning statistics and consequently forget the material very quickly.  I teach Business Analytics within a business program because its what business students need.  The course includes the foundations of statistics and analytical software but only in the context of applied analytics using business cases and problems.  I feel the article minimizes the importance of relating this topic to a specific discipline and fails to state how to accomplish this.  Relevance can usually only be taught within the students' discipline.  A generic Data Science 101 course taught in the math or computer science departments can't do that...so business students need Business Analytics and Biology students need Biological Analytics, etc.  Its not redundant, it makes it relevant and applicable to students--and that is key to true understanding and for students to take it to industry.

 

 

 
jpriestley301
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jpriestley301,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 12:41:21 PM
Re: But Do Teach Communication and Business Skills
Beth - you raise a good question.  In my opinion, Statistics is inherently interdisciplinary and all students should understand the basics of statistics - the concepts of confidence intervals, simple ttests, regression, etc - but ultimately, "Statistics" does not equal "Data Science".  The latter is more comprehensive - understanding where data comes from, how to organize it, and then how to transform it into meaningful information - typically using software like SAS.  While Statistics plays an important role there, Data Science integrates a level of Computer Science/Programming, and application that I dont think traditional Statistics courses address.  
Yukon
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Yukon,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 9:48:35 AM
it could be worse
I am envious of data science residing in an Institute for Advanced Analytics as at NC State and obviously having the backing of the administration.  I gather the Dept. of Statistics at NC State is on board with this.  Frankly, I am even a bit envious of having data science located solely in a Business School silo.  An even more painful alternative is to have mini-silos in departments across campus, each with their local "expert" on data science who may be a "star" in their field doing cutting edge stuff (e.g., sociology, psychology, political science, industrial engineering, finance, transportation engineering, education leadership, etc.).  What passes muster in these areas as quality data science work often times is cringe-worthy.  We lost the battle of a centralized, powerful statistics unit many moons ago (stat methods being taught locally in units such as those mentioned above) and I would hate to see the same thing happen to data science/predictive analytics as colleagues in other units jump on the big data bandwagon.  We are obtaining and continuing to obtain external funding to support our efforts which is perhaps the strongest approach to getting administration backing.
RichardS154
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RichardS154,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 5:27:09 AM
Possession is 9/10-ths of the law
Of course if b-schools get there first while math/stats/cs departments dither, . . .
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/19/2013 | 10:46:44 PM
Re: But Do Teach Communication and Business Skills
@Beth, in my opinion, in addition to Stats 101 course, the marketing students should take at least some other courseware about how to use the big data analytics tools. They don't need to know a lot of technical details but at least they should be aware of the power of big data and how to do basic analytics. The real-life case study would be helpful to build the sense of using big data in their future daily work.
BethSchultz
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BethSchultz,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2013 | 11:32:38 AM
Re: But Do Teach Communication and Business Skills
@Li, do you think it's enought to require marketing students, say, to take Stats 101 and call it a day. Or should marketing students today be exposed to additional analytics-related coursework as well?
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2013 | 10:44:27 PM
Re: But Do Teach Communication and Business Skills
I cannot agree more on both of you. In modern days, we cannot survive long and go further without having composite set of knowledge. Furthermore, data is essential to almost all scienctific disciplines. The marketing students do not need to grasp the details of MapReduce, but they need to have the sense of what data really means - it's not just about digits and structured tables but in most of the cases, it's about unstructured data - information from twitter, blog, etc.
jpriestley301
IW Pick
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jpriestley301,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2013 | 6:45:12 PM
Re: But Do Teach Communication and Business Skills
Brian - I hear your concern about the degree taking "12 years".  My point was that students who are interested in sociology, psychology, finance, or theater - should all have to take a basic data science course.  This does not mean that a European History major needs to take multiple courses in Hadoop and Python...but rather they should be expected to be as "data fluent" as an engineering major is expected to be "literate" and learn how to write well.  Then, of course, for the students who want to actually pursue a career in Data Science - they take the deeper curriculum in Map Reduce, Programming, Text mining...and then have an area of application - like a minor course of study.  In the end, my position is that data science skills should no longer be an exotic area of campus for the "nerd herd" but rather main-streamed into all General Education Curricula.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2013 | 2:25:53 PM
Re: But Do Teach Communication and Business Skills
Yes I agree to all of the blog's points and your point as there should be a mix of finance etc, programming and communication. But my concern is that students are going to have to spend a very long time in college to do all of this, maybe 12 years or so. And maybe if everything is compressed into 4 years then the resulting degree is going to be like an IT degree relative to a CS degree.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/17/2013 | 1:45:53 PM
Business School Isn't For Everyone...
Not everyone wants to go, or can, go to business school. I agree it would be a shame to silo that expertise in the business school. See a related column with a supporting POV: Want Big Data Success? Hire A Biologist.
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