We caught up with Professor Ed Vieira about his user-friendly statistics book!
What inspired you to write your book?
Being a positivist and perhaps a neopositivist, I believe that the world is mathematical and thus can be explained in mathematical terms. This is especially relevant today. Technology provides a great deal of data at our fingertips that allow for so much data-driven decision-making potential. We need more individuals trained in statistical analysis and analytics in order to make more effective and better decisions. We have the data, now what do they mean? The quantitative researcher is in an excellent position to effectively answer such questions.
It's my hope that Introduction to Real World Statistics will inspire individuals to study statistics and all its pragmatic wonders.
What makes your book stand out?
My years of teaching applied statistics; quantitative analysis; research methods; marketing research, and educational research led me to write Introduction to Real World Statistics in an understandable voice. Arguably, statistics books expend space covering statistical formulas and topics that are relatively not easily usable by introductory students or practitioners. The level of detail often becomes overwhelming and the student experiences a loss of interest. This book focuses on constructing a foundation of understanding where the student practitioner can simply learn and use statistical tools to address real world challenges throughout the book without learning formulae or unnecessary details.
Which features do you hope will resonate with students?
Introduction to Real World Statistics is a user-friendly book designed to teach students or practitioners the fundamentals of applied statistics. The text does not emphasize formulas, but the practical hands-on usage of statistics as a tool for improving decision-making through knowledge discovery. Each chapter contains a 'Real World Snapshot' of statistics applied in a concrete manner related to the chapter topic. The book covers the specific steps required to run an analysis using SPSS as demonstrated through a number of real life examples across many fields of study. The book systematically discusses most basic statistics procedures and notes others so that the reader can further explore additional statistical options.
Additionally, the appendices contain information about study designs, research goals and objectives, more information about regression, and a number of other common statistical procedures. In short, the book provides a “handbook” range of how-to information about basic statistics. It makes use of different teaching and learning opportunities that will engage students because they are practical, relatable, concrete, and understandable.
How do you think the field of statistics is evolving today?
Well, statistics, and basic statistics in particular, is one of those areas where widespread innovation comes slowly. Although, there have been some intriguing developments relative to sampling, analyzing missing data, regression and advanced modeling techniques, the noticeable innovations are occurring in the teaching of applied statistics. Some professors are exploring teaching statistics using a graphic novel approach, or, in the case of some of my mentors, using video games to teach the subject. With the relatively low cost availability of new and constantly evolving software and hardware, these are exciting times for pedagogy.
Tell us an unusual fact about yourself and your teaching.
I have a Charlie McCarthy doll in my office, which gazes at the entrance to my office, a fact that my undergraduate students find disquieting.
Fill in the blank: I love my students because...
Simmons students are the best in the world! They think out of the box in exciting ways and are open to new ideas. At the same time, they stand by their convictions, values, and beliefs — all of which make them unique individuals.
What's your favorite class to teach at Simmons?
This is a challenging and intriguing question. I would say that Consumer Psychology and Behavior is my favorite class. Understanding consumerism from cognitive, emotional and behavioral perspectives is important both as a for-profit or non-profit marketer and as a consumer.
Marketing and consumer psychology and behavior is a fascinating area where students and practitioners who have a strong interest in psychology can apply it in the marketplace. This is especially relevant in the growing online and social media environments. Clearly, practitioners with a substantive understanding of the consumer are in demand and have opportunities for career advancement in a broad range of areas.
What's next for you?
I have three projects currently under development:
- I have plans to develop an introductory statistical textbook that largely relies on graphics such as images and flowcharts accompanied with text bubbles. Its focus is the visual learner.
- I am developing an intermediate level statistics textbook, which drills down into the nuances and details of basic statistical concepts covered in an introductory textbook where topics like residual analysis is discussed in detail and various types of regression using categorical and/or continuous data and different methods of estimation are explored.
- I've been developing a method for analyzing text content using network analysis. Through the usage of communication network principles, these measures combine the producer (messaging) and the reader (information processing) perspectives by examining not only word co-occurrences, but co-occurrences in sentence and paragraph structures so that larger linked clusters of meaning or themes can be discovered and the connections and strength of these themes can be studied to determine overall motifs.