At the beginning of this course, fear was the only thing that was on my mind. Math has never been my strong suit and the combination of statistics with social sciences, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now, one 16-week course later, I have gained a lot of knowledge in how to create, analyze, code, maintain data sets, theoretical modeling, and by hand calculations of sociological data. The data I interpreted was collected in the Fall 2020 semester at Longwood University concerning the COVID-19 global pandemic with a focused research question of, “What are student attitudes towards Longwood’s social distancing policy?” My research was a mixed-methods study measuring the knowledge of students who know someone who has broken the social distancing policy by attending a social event on or off-campus with more than 50 people. As well as, measuring the effectiveness of the social distancing policy Longwood has put into place since the pandemic hit its college campus. My research considered the impact of the worldwide changes in policies on college students and how they impact individuals within the dimensions of Longwood’s campus.
The data collected was used to learn how to run a series of tests in SPSS and RStudio, computer programs I was previously unfamiliar with. Through instruction, I learned how to recode categorical and continuous variables, measure their variability, find its z-score, find its confidence interval, run a t-test, an ANOVA, a chi-squared, a Pearson’s correlation, and finally, a regression. The majority of these tests also had hand calculation components that I learned how to solve as well. I started out the semester full of worry because I hadn’t taken a math class since my junior year of high school, but now I have gained a lot of knowledge through an outward-facing e-portfolio and have an 11-chapter statistics manual as proof. Each chapter contains step-by-step instructions on how to complete each test in the SPSS and RStudio programs, with interpretations of the results, as well as by hand applications if applicable. In the end, I tested my research hypothesis, if social distancing is enforced due to COVID-19, then student attitudes will be negatively affected, using probability theory and explained the differences using various statistical techniques and identified the proper techniques for my given research question and data.
What I learned in this course matters in a larger context because possessing statistical abilities could positively impact my learning outcomes and performances if I choose to go to graduate school. I would have the upper hand if the time comes to take another statistics class because I have previous experience with creating and testing my own data sets and with running tests on that data with statistical computer programs. Also, the job market is widely expanding with jobs that have statistical analysis components and it is only projected to grow higher as the years go on. Some non-academic careers require experience in data management and analysis as well.
With what I have learned in this course, I hope to use the information I have gained towards a future job. Like I mentioned before, the job market is projected to only grow higher with jobs containing statistical analysis components. My plan after graduation is to move to a new city and make some money before I settle down into the lifelong career path I would like. With the materials I have learned in this course, I know it would put me in the right direction for the plans I have. And who knows, I may enjoy it to where I could make it my career.