Much of the current post-secondary training in core data science fields treats ‘practice’ as something to be relegated to capstone projects or other final preparations before students leave their programs. Here we argue for a paradigm shift, placing a so-called Practicum course at the center of a data science program, intentionally organized as a hybrid between an educational classroom and an industry-like environment. As a case study, we detail our experience of the past five years developing the Statistics Practicum in Boston University’s MS in Statistical Practice (MSSP) program. We describe the motivation, organization, and logistics of our Practicum, as well as both successes and challenges we have faced. In particular, the challenge of fairly and effectively assessing student achievement and program impact in this novel setting is discussed.
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