Data-enabled Practicum

CSC 531: Practicum In Data-Enabled Research Into Human Behavior And Its Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms (Spring 2020)

Instructor contact information:

  • E-mail: zbai7 at cs dot rochester dot edu
  • Office: Wegmans Hall 3017
  • Office hours: Wed 11:45-12:45

The course is required for students supported by the BCS/CS NRT graduate training grant, and should be taken the semester after the corresponding methods course.

Course overview

In this interdisciplinary project course, students will work in mixed teams of Computer Science, Data Science and Brain and Cognitive Science graduate students to develop an artifact that addresses a research question and/or infrastructure need. The team will also learn principles of design by participating in the stages of brainstorming, specification, initial design, prototyping, refinement, and evaluation.

The artifacts created by this course could include online showcases, demonstrations, tutorials, blogs, scientific papers, and software components to support further research. Examples of previous projects can be found at the NRT program website (


  • Attendance + class participation (15%)
    • Students will take part in seminar discussion and working session
  • Seminar presentation (15%)
    • The presenter of the week should send out the one core reading paper by Tuesday midnight the week before the presentation
  • Paper review (10%)
    • Students who are not presenting the topic should read the core paper beforehand, and submit a half-page paper summary by midnight the day before the presentation
  • Term-project (60%)
    • 2-page proposal (5%)
    • Mid-term presentation (10%)
    • Mid-term report (10%)
      • Write a mid-term project report (1500-2000 words excl. references): title, each member's contribution (e.g. writing section x, review XX literature), motivation and research problem, research questions and expected scientific contribution, related work, research method (e.g. technical solution, dataset, application), evaluation plan, references.
    • Final paper/product (20%): submitted by midnight May 6th
      • Write a final project report (3000-3500 words excl. reference, reported in a conference template – e.g. NIPS):
        • Title
        • Each member's contribution
        • Motivation and research problem (1%)
        • Research questions and expected scientific contribution (1%)
        • Related work (2%)
        • Research method (8%): dataset and technical solution
        • Evaluation and results (5%)
        • Discussion (2%)
        • Conclusion
        • References
    • Final project presentation (10%) May 6th at 12:30pm
      • (tbc) 25 minutes: 20-min presentation + 5-min QA
      • Include all sections of the final report above
      • Equal participation of all members during the presentation
    • Dissemination (5% + 3% bonus): submitted by midnight May 6th
      • Website (3%): An interactive media platform to archive and share your project work
      • Github (2%)
      • [Bonus] Poster (3%)

Class culture

  • Student-centered, inquiry-driven, collaborative
  • Only use electronic devices (e.g. cell phone, laptop) for note taking purposes


  • If a student cannot attend the class due to a planned event (e.g. travel), s/he has to notify the instructor one week ahead of time. For unforeseen reasons (e.g. illness, family emergency), the student has to let the instructor know before 9am on the day of the class.
  • If the student misses more than two classes, s/he should contact the instructor to discuss course make-up

Students with special needs

  • Set up a meeting with the student disability service office and meet with the course instructor to discuss necessary accommodations within the first two weeks

Academic honesty

All assignments and activities associated with this course must be performed in accordance with the University of Rochester's Academic Honesty Policy. More information is available at:

  • For the group project, students are permitted and encouraged to share project materials with group members, and write the report as a group effort. Therefore it is important to understand that you are responsible for the academic integrity of the entire report, including contributions of other group members. To avoid potential problems with academic honesty (and to more fully engage in the project), you should be involved in various aspects of writing the report, and you should verify that citations are correct and that all text is accurately cited and not plagiarized. At the end of the project report, you are required to provide a clear statement of the contributions of each member of your group to the group activities. If you feel that problems are developing in your group project, you should come to see the instructor early, so that I can provide general guidance to group members to set your activities on the right course. As you are responsible for the entire assignment, it is incumbent upon each of you to ensure the integrity of the project.


WeekDateAgendaSupplementary Material
1Wed 1/15Course IntroductionShort bio and statement of interest
Project Pitch from faculty members
2Mon 1/20No class (Martin Luther King Day observed)
Wed 1/22Team formation (Instructor Absent)
3Mon 1/27Initial proposal draft due
Wed 1/29Full proposal due
4Mon 2/3Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 2/5Working session
5Mon 2/10Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 2/12Working session
6Mon 2/17Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 2/19Working session
7Mon 2/24Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 2/26Working session
8Mon 3/2Working session
Wed 3/4Mid-term presentation
9Mon 3/9No Class (Spring Recess)
Wed 3/11No Class (Spring Recess)
10Mon 3/16Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 3/18Working session
11Mon 3/23Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 3/25Working session
12Mon 3/30Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 4/1Working session
13Mon 4/6Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 4/8Working session
14Mon 4/13Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 4/15Working session
15Mon 4/20Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 4/22Working session
16Mon 4/27Discussion leader [tbc]
Wed 4/29Working session
17Mon 5/4Final project presentationFinal paper, research blog and video are due
Wed 5/6Poster presentation, networking