Psychology and Statistics at University

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Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby kat95 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:42 pm

Hi
Okay although I will not be applying to university for another year or so, one of the subjects I am considering to study is psychology, I really enjoy the subject at as and have considered doing something in educational psychology. However, when we have been looking at graphs and statistical data, I do struggle in this area. What I am not sure about is that if I do end up doing psychology at university, will I struggle with the statistical side of the course. I only got through my maths gcse with a tutor and a lot of hard graph. If anybody has done psychology at university or is doing it at the moment, could you please give me an idea of how much statistics the course involves?
Thank you :)
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby C » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:56 pm

Hi,

Nice to 'meet' you. I did psychology at Uni and am now doing a PhD in psychology. Like you, I found maths really difficult (I actually originally took foundation maths at GCSE, where the highest grade you could get was a D. I retook a year later at intermediate level and got a C). Although I find statistics difficult I'd personally say go for it! Of course, only you really know how bad your weakness is in this area but everyone has areas they find more difficult than others. I spent the whole three years of my undergraduate pretty much thinking I'd never pass stats and actually came out with quite good marks. One thing that helped a lot was having a dictophone in class so that I could through it later at my own pace in my own time. Also, there are some quite good statistics textbooks around, e.g. Field and Hole stats books tend to be quite good, have you come across them before?

I still worry about stats now... my skills in the area may have been enough to get my through my BSc and MSc but with a PhD you have to be independent and things and I feel embarassed sometimes to admit I don't know which statistical tests to run with my own studies!!! I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on the statistics in journal articles and when I go to seminars and see graphs and things. At least there, they tend to explain it in 'English' after all the maths stuff what was actually found out. But my lack of statistical skills are one thing that puts me off a career in psychology academic (which otherwise I'd quite like to go into, I just worry that I'm not capable of it).

Anyway, good luck whatever you decide. Educational Psychology is a hard area to get into but has always sounded really rewarding and fulfilling to me. I don't really come here much anymore nowadays but feel free to PM me if there's anything specific you'd like to know about stats or want some more advice.
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby kat95 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:11 pm

Hi C, nice to meet you too. Thank you very much for your advice. Just out of curiosity if you do not mind me asking what university did you go to? There are so many universities that do psychology and I would like to find out which ones have the offer of study support if I was to need help with statistics. I haven't heard of the field and hole statistics books before but I will definitely have a look at them.
:)
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby C » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:22 pm

I did my undergraduate degree at The University of Hertfordshire and my MSc and current PhD at Lancaster University. I liked both Uni's but prefer Lancaster (which is also in the top 10 Uni's, whereas Hertfordshire didn't have as good a reputation, not that it had a bad reputation or anything, just not as good). Study support has been okay, I didn't really apply for anything this year in terms of that as all I really wanted was extra time in exams and as PhD is all independent research I didn't need this. I have a study needs agreement thing but that's it. I got DSA last year and extra time in exams (the only exams I sat were for stats everything else was coursework). I also got some statistics tuition last year which was quite good. The lady was nice and it was helpful... but sometimes I feel like I work better on my own, using my own strategies and things, even though it's very slow. At Hertfordshire (seems like so long ago now!) I also got study support sessions but only for a couple of months as I didn't really need them, extra time and the use of a computer for exams (except for stats - because of the formulas and things it was actually more simple to do it by hand). One thing I am struggling with a little bit is telling people about my difficulties, I never really know whether to just 'get on with it' by myself or to disclose. Luckily, my principal supervisor is brilliant and really patient with me even though I still haven't disclosed fully to her (I've just said things along the lines of 'I'm rubbish at stats'). I'll probably tell her sometime...

I can't remember the name of Field's statistics book but Field and Hole also wrote 'Designing and reporting experiments', which deals with the methodological and statistics element of psychology, like writing psychology lab reports and things like that. Also, I don't know if you know but in psychology and related disciplines, there's a computer program called SPSS (Statistical Program for the Social Sciences) where you can enter your data and click on statistical tests and it performs it for you. I moan and complain about how difficult it is to work and it can be confusing but, so long as you know what you're looking for and what test to do, SPSS does a lot of the work for you. Sorry if you knew about this already but just to let you know, in psychology it's not like you have to work out a lot of stuff by hand (except for doing BSc and MSc psychology classes they make you work things out by hand anyway, to get you used to the tests, but if you want to pursue a career in psychology, you'd mostly be using SPSS). There's a book called SPSS survival manual by Julie Pallant, which is quite good as well.

What Universities are you thinking of applying to? What A levels are you taking?
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby kat95 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:55 pm

I am taking AS Geography, Psychology, Classical Civilisation and History. Not really sure what university yet, doing some research into entry requirements though, I would like to go to either Manchester or Sheffield but not entirely sure I will get the grades AAB but I am going to be positive about it! :) I have not told my psychology teacher yet about my dyspraxia either but am planning to tell her soon if I struggle more with the course :) I use a laptop at school at the moment so am glad to hear I should be able to use one at university too. I have not heard of SPSS before but I shall take a look at the book you mentioned, the field and mole books look very useful as well :)
Thank you very much for all of your insight and advice, it is really giving me an idea of the statistical areas of the course, much more helpful than university websites which just seem to say Year 2 Statistics ! :D
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby C » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:55 pm

Yes, if you apply for DSA (disabled student's allowance) you can get consessions such as a laptop in exams, extra time in exams and study support depending on your needs. You may have to undergo an up to date diagnostic assessment with an educational psychologist depending on how recent your last assessment was.

Regarding SPSS, I should also mention that at the psychology undergraduate level it's universally used (to my knowledge anyway), although you also have to do things by hands. However, this may change depending on what type of psychology you then want to go into. I personally used it at masters level and will use it for my PhD as I'm sure is common, but I'm not sure if you later do educational psychology (I know you said you were interested in this in your first post). I think it probably would be used - at least for some things- but you might have to do things by hand. If it's educational psychology you're into, I think you have to do the BSc Psychology, then another three year educational psychology course and it's good to have some practical experience working within the school/educational setting because I've heard educational psychology is really difficult to get into. Also, I'm not sure whether this has changed since 2006-2009 (when I did my BSc Psychology degree) but you were allowed to take a folder of notes into some undergraduate statistics exams with you 'in those days', which was really helpful and I just made my statistics notes as concise as possible. When I did statistics at Undergraduate level, I think I had a stats project, an spss exam (worth 5%) and a couple of other exams, worth most of the marks in my first and second year. I also had a 'methodology, design and analysis' module as well during those years where you'd write up 'lab reports' (you'd simulate an experiment in class then write this up) in the form of a psychology journal paper - there was quite a lot of statistics (and SPSS use) in the results section of these reports! During my third year, where I did my own dissertation, I had no statistics lectures (the idea being that we could now use the statistics we'd learnt during first and second year for our own project).

It's really annoying when they just list 'statistics' and are not more detailed, I know! I've found that before - even listing the sort of methods they're covering would be more helpful!
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby blueline » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:09 pm

C wrote:http://www.teenbar.net/showthread.php?547-My-Dispraxya-backing-actions Hi,

Nice to 'meet' you. I did psychology at Uni and am now doing a PhD in psychology. Like you, I found maths really difficult (I actually originally took foundation maths at GCSE, where the highest grade you could get was a D. I retook a year later at intermediate level and got a C). Although I find statistics difficult I'd personally say go for it! Of course, only you really know how bad your weakness is in this area but everyone has areas they find more difficult than others. I spent the whole three years of my undergraduate pretty much thinking I'd never pass stats and actually came out with quite good marks. One thing that helped a lot was having a dictophone in class so that I could through it later at my own pace in my own time. Also, there are some quite good statistics textbooks around, e.g. Field and Hole stats books tend to be quite good, have you come across them before?

I still worry about stats now... my skills in the area may have been enough to get my through my BSc and MSc but with a PhD you have to be independent and things and I feel embarassed sometimes to admit I don't know which statistical tests to run with my own studies!!! I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on the statistics in journal articles and when I go to seminars and see graphs and things. At least there, they tend to explain it in 'English' after all the maths stuff what was actually found out. But my lack of statistical skills are one thing that puts me off a career in psychology academic (which otherwise I'd quite like to go into, I just worry that I'm not capable of it).

Anyway, good luck whatever you decide. Educational Psychology is a hard area to get into but has always sounded really rewarding and fulfilling to me. I don't really come here much anymore nowadays but feel free to PM me if there's anything specific you'd like to know about stats or want some more advice.


Was there any possibilities for you to learn those statistics before you start the university yeat ?
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Re: Psychology and Statistics at University

Postby C » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:07 pm

There are textbooks and things about statistics you can get if that's what you mean. To access SPSS, I needed a special code/CD, which I only had access to once at Uni. I think you can get SPSS elsewhere but you'd have to pay for it.

Despite my statistics difficulties, I actually taught statistics to undergraduate students' last term. It took me quite a while to prepare for the classes but they went really well. I think it helped me to go through things again and I had more empathy with student's who were struggling.
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