After two semesters with Dr. Pederson, one in research methods and the other in statistics, I can safely say that I have learned a great deal about collecting data and interpreting it. On the methods side, I’ve learned the do’s and don’ts of how to structure a survey and what makes good questions on a survey. With those, I’ve gotten actual experience designing and sending out a survey for use in research. Heck, I have now written a complete research paper on the topic of family involvement with the data from that survey. 

On the statistics side, as someone who isn’t a big fan of math, I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot of math that I understand in both execution and function. I’ve learned things like T-Tests, ANOVAs, Chi-squareds , etc.. Not only have I learned how to do all of those tests on data I collect, but I’ve also learned how to take that data and interpret meaning out of it beyond just the numbers and variables on a page. Overall, I’ve learned how to collect data and then interpret said data.

Now, why is all of this important? Well it can be useful in both professional and private life. Professional life being the most useful, it can for starters be a plus on a resume. Simply put, employers are likely to take a larger look at candidates with more skills. Whilst in a job, knowing how to collect data and interpret that data into a more easily understandable form is helpful when trying to enact a policy change in an organization or collect feedback on something. In private life, these skills could be used in much similar ways with the main difference being the setting of perhaps a neighborhood group or personal group rather than an occupational one. 

While the uses in private life are significantly lesser than in professional life, it doesn’t mean these skills are useless unless the job you seek specifically requires them. In the grand scheme of things, having the ability to interpret data is a very valuable skill in life. It’s a skill that can allow you to look at data for yourself and come to your own conclusions without needing someone else to do it for you. With all those possibilities in mind, it’s no wonder why learning both research methods and statistics is such a valuable skill. 

For me personally, I don’t think research methods or statistics will have any immediate uses for me in practice. However, that’s not to say they’re useless overall as having them on my resume will indeed be a plus. In the future however, I hope to go into the criminal justice field and inside that field are many places where these subjects can be useful. A large portion of criminal justice revolves around figuring out what crimes are being committed and how to counter them, this involves examining and interpreting data to come to conclusions. There’s the topic of civilian outreach in police departments which can involve finding out what the public thinks of their local police departments and how to best address their opinions and concerns. For positions like judges and sheriffs, they have to run for office. Thus, they need to run campaigns in which they need to understand the issues amongst their constituents which can be done through surveys and other data collection methods. There is a wide variety of application in the field of criminal justice for research and statistics, and while it may have been a rough ride at points, I’m ultimately better off having learned them.