Thursday, August 16, 2007
Student participates in psychology conference
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
While some students take a break from classes during the spring and summer semesters, a number of students look for opportunities outside of the classroom to help them with their studies. Claire Hotelling’s psychology professor Debra McGinnis presented her with information about the Advanced Statistical Training in Psychology workshop in Washington, D.C. The nine-day seminar was designed to teach students more about psychological statistics and research methods in a hands-on environment. Since this is an area Hotelling finds interesting, she decided to participate.
“I recognized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding of an area that is essential to psychological research. I have had a lot of fun with statistical analyses in my classroom and research assistantship work and hoped to learn more statistical tests that could help me understand more complex research, and hopefully implement in my future research work,” Hotelling said, a junior psychology major. “I also thought it would be beneficial to get a new perspective on the topics that were covered from statistics to graduate program admissions.”
The application process for the Advanced Statistical Training in Psychology workshop included nine essays with questions that illustrated each student’s research experience, desire to attend grad school and conduct research, the student’s interest in statistics and prior statistical training. Along with the essays, Hotelling had to submit two letters of reference from professors, her academic transcript and ACT scores.
Hotelling said the workshop started off with a review of basic statistics and the history of numbers and statistics to demonstrate their usefulness throughout history. The students then learned about statistical tests that Hotelling had little experience with. Hotelling said students were taught through a hands-on approach, manipulating data sets on laptops during the sessions. Through the week, students participated in discussions on graduate school admissions and received a tour of the American Psychological Association building.
“I definitely feel I have a strong knowledge of statistics after the ASTP seminars, which will benefit me in my current schoolwork in understanding the research I’m reading. Also, I hope to attend graduate school, where research is the primary focus and the application of the statistics I learned will be a definite advantage,” Hotelling said. “Finally, I hope to conduct my own research in the future, and possibly teach statistics, so this workshop helped provide a foundation for those goals.”
Hotelling said in her statistics courses at Oakland, McGinnis taught not only the math, but the concepts and the application of statistics in research. Through her classes, and as a teaching assistant in McGinnis’ course, Hotelling felt really prepared for the ASTP workshops and feels she is prepared for graduate school and research of her own.
“According to the instructors of the ASTP, the topics we covered are what we will learn in our first semester of statistics in graduate school. In doing research in graduate school, I will need to directly apply what I learned from this workshop by performing the same statistical tests and using the skills I learned to interpret and compare the results. This will also help me in understanding others' research studies by being able to interpret the results of any studies I read,” Hotelling said.
Hotelling plans to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. Research is important in graduate school and beyond, and the use of statistics is vital to that research.
“This was a wonderful experience. By going outside of Oakland and learning more about a topic you love, you can create a very well-rounded educational base for yourself which will aid you in all your future endeavors. I would strongly recommend that anyone who is given the chance to attend training or a workshop in their field to do so, because it really makes learning fun, in that you are in an atmosphere where you can just enjoy learning about the topic at hand, ask as many questions as you need to, discuss interesting topics extensively, receive one-on-one attention, and receive instruction from some very knowledgeable people,” Hotelling said.
For more information on OU’s psychology program, visit the Department of Psychology Web site.