Student Profile: Todd Lewis

I’ve increased my exposure in my department and profession because I have experience with a number of data analysis approaches. I’ve been asked to give guest lectures in other classes on statistical methods and different strategies, and I was asked to present at a national conference.

Todd Lewis, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Counseling and Educational Development
School of Education
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Why do you take online classes with

I take courses for a number of reasons. Mainly, I feel that taking the courses can help me gain the knowledge of statistics and analysis that I need to conduct my research and teach graduate classes. The field of counselor education needs strong researchers, and researchers need strong analytical skills. For example, the use of Structural Equation Modeling, a general but powerful multivariate analysis technique, has increased in our field, and many journal articles are based on its use. I realized Structural Equation Modeling would be essential to help me conceptualize my research and write better questions. I also realized I would need guidance in learning how to use it.

Why did you choose

Although I work for a university, my own access to courses here and the time required for them are limited. I needed a convenient format that lets me study on a flexible schedule—evenings, early mornings, and weekends. The instructors are experts in their field, and the range of topics is across the board in statistics. I wouldn’t have access to some of these topics at the university. With these courses, I am learning more approaches to analyze data and use the applications in my own research.
I’ve taken about 13 courses, and I’m not finished! I completed the PASS Advanced Social Science Statistics certification, and now I’ve signed up for PASS Statistics for Clinical Trials certification. I find that I just want to keep learning more.
Through online research, I found the class catalog. As I read the description of the courses and the format, I knew this was right for me. It offered online instruction, access to the instructor, and numerous specific topics. I kept saying, “I need to know this.”
I’m using the material in my graduate instruction, I help students with specific analyses, and I’m using the data analysis knowledge in my research, but the courses are helping me reach beyond that. I’m now a resource; I share what I know with other professors and researchers. I’ve been asked to give guest lectures in other classes on statistical methods and different strategies, and I was asked to present at a national conference.
I am not a mathematician; I have no math background. I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up in these courses. I read the course descriptions carefully and avoid the ones that have too much math focus. I don’t claim to have understood everything in every course, but I learn enough for the material to be very useful for me as a counselor education researcher.

What was your experience with online, remote learning?

I like the online access to the course 24×7 and the instructors come from a wide range of professions, but they have one thing in common: they all have a good command of their subject matter. I also found that the instructors respond quickly, which, in a four-week course, is important, plus the discussion boards are useful. Other students responded to my questions or posted similar questions. Some instructors posted reference documents as handouts, which I found useful and kept in a notebook.
When I selected courses, it helped me to read the Web site description of the course level and the prerequisites; that way, I knew whether I had enough background to understand the course. I suggest anyone who is considering a course and doesn’t know if it is an appropriate level, should e-mail or the instructor to ask questions, such as if a course has heavy math requirements or if some previous courses taken are adequate background for the material.

What was it like juggling studying, work, and family?

In addition to a full-time job and research commitments, I have a clinical practice in which I see five to seven clients a week and I have two small children. It takes commitment to keep up with it all. I manage by carving out time in the evenings, at slow times during the semester, and weekends. The Web site suggests students should commit 15 hours a week for a course, and I strongly recommend that, especially for someone without a background in statistics. If you can’t carve out the 15 hours, the program may not work for you. A few times I was caught short and I couldn’t put in the time I needed to. I still got a lot out of class, but I could have gained a lot more.

Todd Lewis
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
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