When it comes to statistics, it seems my brain really is like a sieve. During my maths A Level, I never thought I would forget how to do a T-test, make a Chi-squared table or calculate Spearman’s Rank. But as soon as I stopped bashing through stats problems on a regular basis, the knowledge slipped away like shadows in the dawn. Which is quite unfortunate really, as since starting my PhD here at Sheffield, I keep generating piles of data from my experiments. All of which needs careful analysis to make it “thesis-worthy”. I’ve reluctantly come to accept that, for myself at least, statistics is not like riding a bike -a skill which never leaves you. Instead, I was in desperate need of a refresher course. True, you can find countless textbooks and websites, but I found these pretty uninspiring and quickly forgot the techniques. What I really needed was a proper teacher who could put everything into context…
Who should come to my rescue? MASH! (As in – Maths And Statistics Help). This department, based at the 301 Study Skills Centre on Glossop Road, offers FREE regular workshops throughout the year that take you through the theory behind the most commonly used stats techniques. The pace is just right – not too fast or slow – and you immediately put the methods into practice by working through examples using bespoke statistics software (such as SPSS). The worksheets are an invaluable resource that include screenshots showing the menus to use to find the correct formulas. This makes it easy to transfer the skills when you come to work on the databases for your own projects. Whether you are a total beginner or have had some experience with stats, everyone can benefit from a MASH workshop. They only last two hours or so, so you really can’t lose. You really would struggle to find better tuition anywhere, even if you paid for it!
The five workshops currently available are:
1.Getting started with SPSS and Statistics
2. Hypothesis testing
3. ANOVA in SPSS
4. Correlation and regression in SPSS
5. Choosing the right analysis for your project
It’s very easy to book a place using the online service and the courses are repeated at regular intervals throughout the year. MASH also offer one-to-one appointments for maths or statistics help in their office at the 301 centre on Glossop Road.
When I find that I am struggling to define a confidence interval, let alone calculate one, I book myself in for a refresher or dig out the worksheets from last time and I’m soon brought up to speed. Sooner or later you are bound to encounter a bit of statistics work in your degree/PhD so it really does help to know where you can get support when you need it! So don’t be afraid of any data analysis looming on the horizon; sign up to a MASH workshop and hit the ground running.