Last September, Feldon et al wrote a paper titled “Null effects of boot camps and short-format training for PhD students in life sciences” that seemed to say that short workshops and bootcamps don’t actually improve skills, scholarly productivity, or socialization into the academic community. Word et al wrote a response on the Software Carpentry blog, and organized a webinar by Prof. Rochelle Tractenberg, a video of which is now online.

One of the big takeaways relates to Bloom’s Taxonomy, a widely-used hierarchical classification of kinds of knowledge from simple remembering (lowest level) to evaluating (highest level). Tractenberg pointed out that short workshops and online courses are focused on skills at the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but the outcomes people are looking for (scholarly productivity and socialization) are at the higher levels, so it may not be meaningful to say that the former doesn’t affect the latter. I really enjoyed the webinar, and wish more people were building bridges like this between the theory we have and the practice we’re trying to change.