Getting students more “job ready” with IBM SPSS Statistics software

Helping Wichita State graduate students excel

Published on 31-Aug-2010

"Our graduates have said this is one of the more important skill sets they learned. Regardless of the research question or the software they must use, they now have a firm understanding of the entire research process and, therefore, can do anything asked of them." - Dr. David Wright , WSU sociology professor

Customer:
Wichita State University

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Business-to-Consumer, BA - Business Analytics

Overview

Wichita State University (WSU), one of six state universities in Kansas, is a Doctoral/Research Intensive institution offering more than 60 undergraduate, 57 master’s and 12 doctoral degree programs, with an enrollment of more than 14,000 students. The graduate program in sociology chose IBM SPSS Statistics to better equip its students for today’s workplace.

Business need:
To make students more “job ready” by teaching the entire research process, instead of just the end product.

Solution:
The department chose IBM® SPSS® Statistics because its syntax was easy to learn and it seamlessly integrated with an entire family of analytics products – exposing students to the entire research analysis process.

Benefits:
Benefits to institution • Students learned to use data to address a multitude of research questions. • They learned marketable skills and increased their job readiness. • Students completed the program much faster – cutting graduation time in half. • Student research quality improved, making it easier to publish their masters’ theses in scholarly journals and present them at academic conferences.

Case Study

Wichita State University (WSU), one of six state universities in Kansas, is a Doctoral/Research Intensive institution offering more than 60 undergraduate, 57 master’s and 12 doctoral degree programs, with an enrollment of more than 14,000 students. The graduate program in sociology chose IBM SPSS Statistics to better equip its students for today’s workplace.

Helping students see “the big picture” of research
The graduate program in sociology is a highly quantitative program that prepares students to become research analysts in a variety of fields. In the 1990s, the department recognized that it needed to teach students the “big picture” of research – focusing more on the
entire research process, instead of just the end product or solution of the research. They believed that this change of emphasis would make graduates more marketable in the workplace by broadening their analytical skills to meet the analytical needs of a broad range of industries.

IBM SPSS Statistics made learning syntax easy
The department began expanding its courses to include data management and the presentation of data. By using various types of large secondary data sources (e.g., census data) – the students had to get “under the hood” and learn the underlying syntax.
The department chose IBM SPSS Statistics because its syntax was easy to learn and because the software could easily integrate a variety of data sources. In addition, unlike many other statistical programs, IBM SPSS Statistics seamlessly integrated with an entire family of analytics products – exposing students to the entire research analysis process.

“The syntax method allowed for more flexibility in data management and it taught students to think in terms of the entire research process rather than output – especially since 90 percent of one’s time is spent on data management and 10 percent on statistical analysis,” said WSU sociology professor, Dr. David Wright.

Making students more “job centric” – and graduating faster
By teaching IBM SPSS Statistics syntax, the students became more data centric – using data to address a multitude of research questions, rather than job centric – using data management for a single research question.The students were learning marketable skills such as:

- Understanding good data design, which is very important in designing surveys
- Managing data for reporting and analysis.
- Determining appropriate analysis and reporting for a given question and data
- Coding techniques of data management to help them manage large volumes of data requests
- Replicating and documenting data management actions (via syntax)

The change of emphasis is helping students graduate from the program much faster – from an average of 8.5 semesters in 1992 to less than four semesters today. And Wright says that because students are using widely accepted secondary data sources (instead of small – and sometimes questionable – primary research datasets), it has become easier to publish their masters’ theses in scholarly journals and present them at academic conferences. “Our graduates have said this is one of the more important skill sets they learned. Regardless of the research question or the software they must use, they now have a firm understanding of the entire research process and, therefore, can do anything asked of them,” concluded Wright.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
SPSS Statistics GradPack

Legal Information

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