Doctoral students can continue to apply through February 2 for the opportunity to work with data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) alongside NAEP researchers from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Applicants to the 2024 NAEP Doctoral Student Internship Program will indicate their intent to conduct research in a variety of topic areas; to provide additional context for those weighing their choices, NAEP researchers Cadelle Hemphill and Brittany Boyd have answered some questions about the Re-envisioning Quantitative Information (data visualization) topic area.
- How was the Re-envisioning Quantitative Information topic area conceptualized?
“The animating idea for forming the Re-envisioning Quantitative Information internship came about from a desire to attract fresh thinking from information and data science to reporting NAEP data. Historically, federal statistical agencies like the NCES have relied on traditional figure types (e.g., bar graphs, line graphs, and maps) to share data. More recently, figure types on federal statistical agency websites have become more dynamic and include on-demand data available to the user—think a Tableau-driven figure.
- It's noted that the intern for this topic area will be part of a multidisciplinary team composed of analysts, graphic designers, measurement scientists, and programmers. Do candidates need to have some knowledge of each of these skillsets to apply? Can someone without an education research background apply?
“AIR has welcomed interest from students in various disciplines to this internship—for example, information and decision sciences, sociology, social research methodology, and psycholinguistics. Candidates need not have mastered the design, measurement, and programmer skillsets. And it is not critical for the intern to be only knowledgeable about all education-related disciplines. However, familiarity with large federal datasets like NAEP data, the ability to apply the relevant research skills for the chosen topic, and programming knowledge sufficient to visualize the data selected is critical.”
- What kinds of software will interns use in their projects?
“Our interns have used R, Shiny, Python, and Tableau. We are open to suggestions for other products from candidates/interns.”
- Beyond specific technical skills and experience, what qualities do you think lend themselves to success in an applicant for this topic area?
“Understanding the power of data to tell a compelling story and add to the public’s interest in the usefulness of NAEP data is an essential quality. We are particularly keen to have candidates with a strong interest in disaggregating data to better explain within-group differences.”
- Can you provide an example of what a project might look like?
“A past project focused on the development of a data visualization based on NAEP data that targeted an audience of parents and policymakers. The intern combined data from NAEP, the Census Bureau Household Pulse data, and state-level funding and policies to tell a story about students’ access to broadband internet. The final design was realized through Altair and Python, with some customized design choices in Adobe Illustrator. The intern also developed a framework for assessing the effectiveness of the visualization on the target audience.”
- Why should someone apply to Re-envisioning Quantitative Information?
“The intern will have the opportunity to showcase their skills by using selected data to tell a story through unique visualizations and interactive tools like dashboards, while gaining knowledge about NAEP and other related datasets, programs, and software. The intern will also collaborate with a diverse multidisciplinary team, allowing them to explore different aspects of AIR and providing them with the opportunity to make long lasting connections.”
This paid internship will take place remotely over 10 weeks starting early June, with some covered travel to Arlington, VA, expected. To learn more and apply, check out the 2024 NAEP Doctoral Student Internship Program page here. You can also check out some of our interviews with 2023 internship alumni here or listen to them talk about their experience with the program in our new video here. Don’t forget to subscribe to the NAEP R&D mailing list to stay up to date on internship information and future opportunities.