DataScience@SMU’s Inaugural Immersion
- The Elephant in the Room: Republican Primary Candidates. One of a few presentations related to election data, this presentation sought to see how images of the primary candidates reflect their polling. They pulled all images and mentions of the top 11 Republican candidates from the top three cable news channels the two weeks before and two weeks after the August and September primary debates. The images (but not the text associated with the images) will be graded based on a rubric designed by the group.
- First Impressions: A Study of Unconscious Biases in Society. Another common topic in the presentation, this group looks to quantify preexisting racial bias in society while also observing if they are unintentionally propagated. Using headshots, the initial study design called for a nonrandom sampling of persons known to the group to give their impressions of the people in the photographs. Several possible biases were raised, such as the lack of randomization in the responses, and the nonconsent of those photographed to be in the study.
- The College Debt Trap. This group asked the following question: Is increased income from a college education enough to cancel out the cost of student debt repayment for low-income families? Instead of using cumulative lifetime earnings, the group chose to focus on yearly income after graduation and compared it to a set benchmark (the average annual salary of a high school graduate). The group found that the degree did pay off about 10 years after graduation, but group members also discussed the missing elements of their study, such as missing data, inadequate breakouts of data, the price of dropping out, etc. All of these things will be addressed over the course of the next semester.