An age-old debate is whether we should teach statistics not using manual calculations, but also using software such as SPSS, MINITAB, JASP etc.
While many teachers and lecturers prefer manual calculation, we believe there is a better way. We believe students gain the most valuable skills by working with real data sets, pre-processing the data, and then running the relevant statistical tests as this prepares students to conduct their own research.
Crucially, for experimental psychologists and behavioural scientists, it’s not just about software for statistics, but also the software for data pre-processing. The pre-processing is often the far bigger piece of work and often a more useful long term skill. In industry, far fewer roles require inferential statistics. Many more roles benefit from data processing and data visualisation skills.
Favoured tools are Excel (pivot tables & power pivot) and R, both of which are also generally useful skills to learn. Students greatly appreciate it if the skills they learn are useful outside academia — and Excel is ubiquitous. Favoured packages for statistical analysis are JASP and SPSS.
If you’re new to Excel or R, we have some great resources on our support page to get you started.
So, for me, best-in-class teaching takes students from the research question, to the data collection, to the data pre-processing and then finally to the statistical analysis.
We have several FREE research methods lectures (for example this webinar) with data sets that can be used in class in Gorilla Academy. We cover topics like attention, language, learning & social influence. But of course, the specific research topic is less important than the generic skills learnt. Check out an example data analysis lecture from our selective attention study.
The generic skills learnt in these Gorilla Academy lectures are:
- What raw behavioural data looks like (one row per trial)
- How to pre-process it (one row per participant)
- How to select the appropriate statistical test for the data collected
- How and when to use Excel, R, JASP
These lectures are perfect for students using Gorilla in their capstone or dissertation projects, as these lectures will teach them many of the skills they need to be successful.