By: Kirsten Fantazir
I recently purchased Boss Lady: Advanced Programming Topics for the Intermediate Level Professional by Amy Moore to help in my data analysis for a study on student motivation and engagement in an online educational setting. I have taken several undergraduate and graduate courses on quantitative analysis, but like Moore says, “statistics is already an esoteric topic, as very few understand it.” As a result, the book is written in understandable terms and comes with several examples that are widely applicable. The concepts I’ve learned from my PhD classes really came alive as I read this book, with my specific study in mind. The underlying message of the book is to learn the “art form” of statistical analysis for yourself to avoid relying on others. As a novice researcher, this is my goal, so the book really aligned with what I am trying to accomplish.
While SPSS is the statistical program I am using, I appreciate how Moore consistently discussed four programs throughout the book. The section on splitting data was especially helpful, as the book explains how this is useful for making comparisons based on demographics. There are SPSS instructions and screenshots, which were extremely helpful. In addition, the section on recoding data was also helpful. It shows how to reverse negative questions, and since I have two of these questions in my data set, this section of the book was very relevant.
One key takeaway I had not realized from the book was that I could become “certified” in various statistical programs. I think this is fantastic, as many people I have met I have contended to use SPSS, but the certification would show a certain level of competence. Overall, other topics were simplified throughout the book, like sample size calculation, data issues and solutions. This book complements the statistics and research-based textbooks I have accumulated. As a Ph.D. candidate, it was valuable reading this prior to writing chapters 4 and 5 of my dissertation. I’ve made notes in the margins and know I will be using it during the data analysis process. It’s comforting to have a resource that is written in such a clear manner that focuses on key technical skills I need to conduct my own research.