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5 Tips for Doing Well in Summer Classes

Now that summer is here, whether you are trying to squeeze a pre-requisite in or making making up an incomplete, circumstance may have forced you to take a summer class. Here are a few tips for doing well in summer classes: 1. Make sure you have open communication with the teacher. Whether the class is online or in person, make sure you know how to contact the teacher and get your questions answered or get guidance in a timely fashion. Some summer classes are accelerated, and if you have burning questions about the final test or project, they may not get answered in time if you cannot connect with the teacher! Some teachers prefer to respond to e-mail, while others post to a “Question and Answer” discussion board. Some even prefer phone calls or in-person meetings at “office hours”, which may be routinely offered or schedule by appointment. If your syllabus does not explicitly say how your teacher likes to be contacted, ask at the first class so you have this information... read more

Did you know Excel can do data analysis?

Excel includes functions for data analysis! Many statistics students who are familiar with Excel may not know how simple it is to use for basic (and even not-so-basic) statistics. In Excel, to do formulas, you just precede the formula with =, and hit enter. For example, if I type =4+5 and hit enter, the cell will say 9. If cell A1 has a 4 in it, and A2 has a 5 in it, I can instead reference the cells in my formula: =A1+A2 and hit enter, and the cell will say 9. This simple principle is useful when you have a table of data on an Excel tab. Imagine you have a column of systolic blood pressure measurements titled SBP. If you select a cell, type in =AVERAGE( and then highlight the entire column of numbers under SBP then type ) and enter, you will get the average. If you try that again, and instead use =STDEV, you will get the standard deviation. =MIN returns the minimum number, =MAX the maximum, and =SUM the sum, for example. To do a chi-squared statistic,... read more

Tutoring and Theses or Dissertations

A large writing project such as a thesis or dissertation requires a lot of work and planning, mastery in a variety of skills, as well as the heavy involvement of an advisor, and often, a committee of advisors. Sometimes, students feel overwhelmed with all this work and feel they need some help they are not getting (and probably should not get) from their advisors. Advisors are there to help plan the project, make sure the project qualifies as a final project, and guide the student's decisions along the way. However, as the student continues with his/her project, s/he may find him/herself weak in certain skills, such as data analysis, data presentation, proofreading, concrete and clear writing, and logical organization. This is when a tutor can be helpful. When I have tutored students to help them with large writing projects, I follow these guidelines: 1) The student's advisors/committee must know about my involvement and its scope, and approve it. 2) Any statistical... read more

3 Pointers About Tutoring and Learning Biostatistics and SAS

I have tutored several students in biostatistics (SAS, but also SPSS) through WyzAnt, and have picked up a few pointers for tutors and students alike. 1. Professors like it "their way": There are many ways to accomplish the same operation in computer programming, especially in such an extensive language as SAS. However, professors generally will grade down if the student does not do it the way the professor lays out in the homework. "Data steps" are especially risky for this - but I have rarely seen two SAS programmers accomplish the same data editing with exactly the same code. 2. Excel is a great teacher and calculator. The reason it's a great calculator is that you can actually program formulas, and some are quite advanced - t-tests, ANOVA, etc. The reason it's a good teacher is that you can put all your variables on the spreadsheet and even label them, then simply refer to them in formulas. Doing this with an odds ratio (OR) is informative, because... read more

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