One of the subjects that I teach at Bethel is Statistics – or as I hear my students say (relatively often!), “the dreaded stats”! Usually, by the end of the session, comments I hear are those of relief of course, and “wow, I just used this topic at work and made a better decision because of it” or “it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.” So.. a few words on quantitative analysis and statistics.
Stats may seem daunting at first, not everyone has fond memories of their undergraduate math or statistics courses. Yes, stats has a lot of math and math is a fundamental requirement. However, the hard math is done for you thanks to fantastic tools that are as simple as Excel and as powerful as equipment we used to pay millions of dollars for just 20 years ago. As a result, students can focus more on the analysis and decision making that occurs as a result of the number crunching and less on the actual crunching of numbers.
While it’s still vital to understand how to do the math and the concepts behind it, we have a strong focus in this course on what the numbers mean. What students quickly realize through examples and homework is that every day decisions we make, such as where to buy gasoline for our car or which route to take to work in the morning, are often driven by data and numbers – even when we don’t realize it. Students see that often they calculate information in their minds on auto-pilot, but when put into context and analyzed for underlying common denominators, decisions are made for a specific reason with a specific purpose. These experiences underscore the statistics work that we do, and the data we collect every day feeds not only into our true data analysis, but our gut decision making as well. Often what we think of as our gut reaction is really a lot of data we collect over years, including statistics. If I do X, then Y occurs; so I won’t (or will) do X. When students see how valuable understanding decision making is and the role statistics play, not only does it become less frightening, but it becomes a highly valuable class for their professional and personal tool bags. I personally love to watch this transformation over an eight week term and have an awesome time teaching these courses!
Dr. Dani Babb teaches Statistics and Information Technology for Bethel University’s Executive MBA Program. She recognizes the vital role that statistics and decision making plays in everyday life, and the opportunity to help students see that they use statistics each day and how to use it to their advantage – both personally and professionally.