AZMerit and the Importance of Parents

Today I went to a parent meeting to talk to them about the new state test in Arizona. Most of the schools in our district are doing the test online. The online test requires a lot of computer skills that I think a lot of our kids do not have. The meeting got me thinking about how important parent involvement is for the test and education in general. When it comes to the test it is important that our kids learn typing skills, learn how to use the mouth, drag and drop skills and many, many more. What scares me the most about this is that this skills will affect the grade the student gets on test. but has nothing to do with how much the student knows about the subject.

Our teachers cannot be the only ones who are working to get our student prepared for testing. We as parents need to help them learn how to use a computer. They need to learn to use a mouse, type and do problem solve with the computer when they are not sure how to do something.

For those parent who want to help their kids prepare http://azmeritportal.org/ is a website where you can go to get information about the test, take practice tests, and see exactly what your student will be required to do for the test.

Productive Week?

Well another week has gone by and I don’t know if I feel any closer to graduating. I am working on my dissertation and several other projects at the same time. I feel like I do a lot of things, but nothing gets completed. I was talking to my advisor today and we went over the projects I am working on, five to be exact. Sometimes I think I am not doing enough, sometimes I think I am doing too much. I wish my projects would move faster. I think what I need to do is focus on one project at a time. Focus my efforts on that one project, get it done, then move on to the next. The reason I haven’t done that already is I am afraid if I spend all my time on one project and it doesn’t work out I have just wasted all of that time.
Now that I have lamented I am going to try something out to try and fix my problem. I am going to try and have essentially 4 projects I am working on. One project will be in the planning stage, one project will be in the data collection stage, one project will be in the analysis stage, and one project will be in the writing stage. I realize that this is probably not going to work exactly perfect. The writing stage for me has  usually taken the longest. Tying this out I think will focus my work, and make reduce my anxiety and help me not feel scattered all the time. The other good thing is as projects get to the writing stage, and I am not done with the project that is already in that stage several things will happen. 1) I will be motivated to finish the project I am currently working on. If I keep track of the results I get with the project in the analysis stage I will always have something to write next. And the last thing it will do is to also keep new data coming in, and hopefully keep new ideas flowing as well.
One thing I have going for me right now is all of the projects I am currently working I am excited about. This wasn’t the case several months ago, and it had me really worried. I am glad I am finally working on projects I am excited about. I hope every other researcher out there is being productive and loving what they are doing.

Data Analysis Win!

Well I thought for my first post I would talk about a great experience doing research this week. I have been working on a project with Dr. Irwin a Sociologist here at Baylor. We collected a bunch of data examining how forgiving groups affect cooperation. We analyzed our data using the normal sums of squares method, and found several interaction effects in the data. Dr. Irwin suggested we use a series of t-test to probe the significant interactions. This is not the best way to do this. I knew that the right way to do it was using treatment contrast, and contrast contrast interactions. He asked me to do them since I knew how.  I was pretty excited to do the analyses, because I had never done them before and was excited to learn better how to do them.

As I started to do them I ran into a problem. The formula in the Research Design book that I have is for an experiment with an equal number of participants in each group, which we don’t have in our data. I went to the ANOVA God for help, Dr. Kirk. Dr. Kirk told me I needed to use the cell means model method of doing the analyses. I worried about doing them this way since I would again have to figure out how to do them, which would take more time and since I was working on a time crunch I really didn’t want to have to do that.

I did however finally get the analyses done after however, having to consult both Dr. Kirk and Megan Johnson. While I was looking at some of the results one of the tests I did looked off, it was saying there was a difference where I thought the data showed there really shouldn’t be one, and that there wasn’t a difference where one should be. After looking at whether I had made a mistake in my code and not finding one, I thought I would try and see if the result would work out more like I thought it should if I did a t-test. I thought if I can get a result with a t-test I will just stop worrying about trying to figure out the contrast contrast interaction. The t test however, showed only marginal significance where I thought a difference should be, and no difference where I thought there shouldn’t be a difference.  I was a little disappointed in the t-test because now I was really going to have to figure it out, so I went back to the cell means model. After two hours of frustration I finally figured out I had mislabeled something and once I corrected the labeling it worked out just like I thought it should.

Once I figured out and fixed the problem I was so excited. For one, it showed me that doing the data analysis the  right way was in fact better than doing it the easy way, even though it was harder. Two, I was able to learn how to do it treatment contrast and contrast contrast interactions, which was a total boost to my confidence. I said multiple times this week I had to channel my inner Dr. Kirk, and although it was hard it paid off in the end. So go out there and analyze some data and do it correctly no matter how hard it is, and you will be rewarded!

Hello world!

Well, I finally did it. I have been talking about starting a blog for a while, and I finally did it. I think some of my friends thought I would never do it. Well I did, now the question is will I keep it up to date? I am going to post at least once a week (now I am accountable). This is going to be a place  where I can write about the thoughts that I have on psychology, research, teaching psychology, or anything related to psychology I think is interesting.  It might also be a place that I muse about graduate school or life as a researcher.