“I wouldn’t have said I loved statistics before I started at Statistics.com. But now I do. I really do.”
Staci Taylor is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Southeastern Louisiana State University. She was asked to teach statistics, and signed up with Statistics.com to refresh her skills. After initially planning to take a couple of courses, she ended up deciding to take the full 10-course program in Biostatistics. Here is her story, as told to Valerie Woodside, Customer Experience Manager at Statistics.com.
Tell me about your career journey.
I am a registered nurse and got my bachelors in nursing in 1996. I have a Masters in Nursing Education that I got in 2002, and then once I started teaching I realized that I needed that terminal degree since that’s what I wanted to do. I got my PhD in Nursing in 2007. I’ve been in academia since 2002 when I first got my Masters. Now I teach in our graduate program at Southeastern Louisiana University.
When I started teaching in the graduate program I first taught theoretical courses and research courses, but then we needed someone to teach statistics. Our dean wouldn’t let us teach it with just research experience so another colleague and I decided to take a class. Well we’re overachievers so instead of taking one or two classes, we decided to get certified! So that’s when I got into the Biostatistics Certificate at Statistics.com.
So you were looking to really flesh out your understanding of statistics.
Right. I’d taken statistics classes in my undergrad and grad programs which were – when I look at the certificate – very basic. So that’s how I ended up doing the certificate program. It was so nerdy being in those courses. I would tell my friend I was going to this statistic thing and she’d say, ‘I’ve never had a friend who says she just loves statistics.’ They thought it was so funny.
Would you have said you loved statistics before you started taking the courses?
No, I wouldn’t.
But now you do?
I do. I really do. I was on a call with someone yesterday about a simulation clinical experience here and I saw the evaluation form that he’s getting the students to complete. I lost it when I saw the evals. I said, “Are you collecting this data on everybody? We need to do this!”. So now he’s coming over and we’re going to do a project. I told him, “I’ll do the data for you!”.
As an educator, how was your experience taking the courses and doing the program online.
It was very intimidating. You’re a teacher – you’re used to being in charge. And it took me a little while to get through because I was in a role at work that was difficult to meet the deadlines. A couple classes at the beginning I had to just drop. Valerie called me one day and said, “We’re going to get you through this program.” Once my schedule changed at work I loved the classes because I had the time to devote to the reading and assignments. It was intimidating because I have the type of personality that wants to be an expert at anything I do. I want to make all A’s in the classes so it was more challenging for me.
You mentioned being intimidated. Was the whole process intimidating or just at the beginning of the program?
Just some courses. I think some courses were harder than others. And I think it probably had something to do with what was going on in my life as to how focused I was on the class.
How many courses did you take at a time?
Do you have any advice for prospective students?
I would say to stay organized, make sure you have all the dates down in one place when the class first starts, get that book ahead of time, and think about what kind of learner you are. And utilize the teacher’s assistant – I wish I had done that. If at all possible, stay one week ahead on assignments so the TA can look at your assignments. Use the discussion board and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Did you get from the certificate program what you were hoping for as far as confidence and ability to communicate statistics in the class you were teaching?
Absolutely. And I’ve even helped other people at other universities with statistics or helped their students with it. The more I do statistics the more comfortable I feel. Now here at the university some of colleagues will send their students to me and tell them, “Dr. Taylor is our statistics person.” And I’m like, wait, me? But I am feeling more comfortable answering their questions or giving them direction.
Is there anything else that you wanted to share?
I think it’s a great program. I really do. Any problem or issue that I may have had, even when I missed an assignment, the TAs would always reach out to you and ask if there was anything they could help you with. I thoroughly enjoyed the meta analysis course. In that course, the instructors did videos and talked through the examples. At the end I thought, oh my god, I can do a meta analysis now!
The program is really flexible and set-up to where it can accommodate people with it being online and only 4 weeks. If you think about it, even if it’s difficult, you can do anything for 4 weeks. I would do it again and if there were other courses I needed to take I would use them as well.