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Let's Conquer Statistics

Dear Social Work Students,

I remember, for my first faculty position, I was hired to specifically teach research and statistics courses. I wanted to make that career leap into teaching at the university level, but doubted my abilities. I decided to have a conversation with a mentor and she said, "If you can teach research and statistics, you will always have a job." 😀

In other words, she was telling me to go for it! So I went for it, muted my self-doubt, moved across the country to Colorado, and taught those research and statistics courses. That was in 2007, and one of the greatest and boldest (moving across country by myself) steps I have ever taken in my career. Thank you to Colorado State University Pueblo, Department of Social Work for giving me my first chance at teaching at the university level!

Now, it is 2021 (14 years later!) and I am still teaching research and statistics courses and seeking ways to keep it fresh, creative, and to ensure students that you can navigate and accomplish these courses with success. However, you will need to be strategic, intentional, and proactive.

That leads me to a couple tips.

One of my professors (Dr. Elisabeth Suarez) recommended a book to my cohort called, Statistics for People Who Think They Hate Statistics, 2nd Edition, Excel 2007 Edition by Neil J. Salkind (Copyright 2010, Sage Publications). I still have this book. I noticed it is now available on eBay for $4.00. This book rescued me from self-doubt and enabled me to facilitate undergraduate social work statistics courses during my first teaching position. The information is incredibly easy to read with everyday examples. I still have my copy and it still comes in handy when I am teaching introductory statistics information. Do you have an upcoming research and/or statistics course (remember, statistics is part of research)? Maybe consider getting a copy of this book.

Next, videos are fantastic! Especially when you learn well by watching something in action. It also allows you the opportunity to pause and rewind while taking notes. I remember when I began at my current university position in 2009 (I traveled across country again!), a seasoned faculty member (Dr. Stephen Marson) passed on his statistics DVDs to me. What a wonderful gift! Certainly, that was during a time when DVDs were popular. Now you have access to videos online. Take advantage of that access, whether through your university library or other online resources such as YouTube (many university professors post videos), Khan Academy, and more. Select videos that are taught by those who are part of or close to your profession. Why? They will most likely use examples from your profession to help you better understand and apply statistics.

Consider these questions:

  1. What does "statistics" mean?

  2. How does statistics fit into research?

  3. What is a sample versus a population?

  4. What are descriptive versus inferential statistics?

  5. What is data or datum?

  6. What is numerical versus categorical data?

  7. What is meant by levels of measurement?

  8. What are measures of central tendency and why do these matter?

  9. What do tea and milk have to do with statistics?

To learn the answers to these questions, visit the:

12-minute video called, What is Statistics: Crash Course Statistics #1 on YouTube

19-minute video called, Statistics for Social Work Lecture 01 on YouTube

6-minute video called, Nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio data: How to Remember the Differences on YouTube

Don't stop here, find more ways to strategically, intentionally, and proactively strengthen your research and statistics skills.

Be empowered!


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