Discussion response Peer1 Cait Bahr
While some individuals may not recognize the term descriptive statistics, there is an extremely high probability that they have used, referenced or referred to them while participating in their daily life. Warner (2013) states that descriptive statistics are mainly used to summarize information or numbers from samples. These statistics can be used to find the mean of test scores (if you are a teacher), or for something as simple as political polling during an election period (Warner, 2013). While there are appropriate times and ways to utilize descriptive statistics, there are also times when descriptive statistics should not be used (Warner, 2013). For example, if researchers are trying to find the side effects of specific medications, they would choose not to use descriptive statistics because they are too generalized (Warner, 2013). If researchers were to use descriptive statistics to find the side effects, the samples could be skewed (Warner, 2013). While there are limitations to descriptive statistics (ie. medicine, research studies, etc.) it can still be extremely beneficial for people who work in certain professions (Warner, 2013).
Speaking from experience, I use descriptive statistics quite frequently after grading my student’s exams and assignments. It is interesting to add up all of the student’s scores (mean) and see how they compared to prior tests or against other classes. Finding the mean of the exams also allows the students to see how they are doing overall. While I currently use descriptive statistics in my job, I know my future career with undoubtedly requires the use of descriptive statistics too. After graduating with my MA in Psychology with a specialization in ABA, I am going to take the BCBA certification test. If everything goes as planned, then I will be a board certified behavior analyst. As a BCBA, I will be recording data and will be responsible for conducting behavioral assessments. I would definitely be able to utilize descriptive statistics while recording frequency or duration data. Using descriptive statistics to find the means of duration and frequency data will be useful for not only myself but for other teachers and parents to see how the students are performing behaviorally.
In my previous experience, aside from work, I have seen descriptive statistics predominately during the US Presidential Election. Every time I turned on the news there were always polls or statistics depicting the possible outcome of the Presidency based on samples. While this was interesting to see then, I now realize that these polls had limitations and were too generalized.
Warner, R. M. (2013). Applied Statistics From Bivariate Through Multivariate Techniques (2nd ed.). Thousand Oakes, CA: SAGE Publications.
Discussion Response Peer2 Teddrick
I have encountered descriptive statistics various times throughout my undergraduate career, and a handful of times during my post undergrad classes. When I majored in Neuroscience, we would often deal lightly with descriptive statistics when writing lab reports or research papers for biology, chemistry, and physics. Typically this involved putting data into Microsoft Excel and creating a line graph detailing how two variables were related. Last quarter, in my Tests and Measurements course, I came across a couple of different journal articles using descriptive statistics to evaluate individuals with various psychological disorders.
Descriptive statistics is defined as a form of statistics dedicated solely to summarizing information about a particular sample (Warner, 2012). Unlike inferential statistics, the information gathered from descriptive statistics cannot be generalized to a larger population, which could be considered a limitation (Warner, 2012). The use of descriptive statistics also runs the risk of losing vital information related to the data (“Descriptive Statistics,” 2006). For example, knowing a participant’s heart rate does not tell us about important factors that could contribute to the heart rate, such as stress level and physical fitness. However, descriptive statistics is particularly useful for summarizing a large amount of data and making it easier to understand, as well as to make comparisons (“Descriptive Statistics,” 2006).
In the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and ABA therapy, behavior analysts often utilize descriptive statistics to portray a client’s progress during therapy. For example, if a target of therapy is to reduce the amount of tantrums a child engages in, we might take data before the intervention, and then several times while the intervention is being implemented. The data lets us know whether the intervention is successful. Furthermore, data taken by observation can also give clues as to when a tantrum is more likely to occur (e.g. time of day, before or after an activity). I am sure that, when I become a behavior analyst, I will utilize descriptive statistics often in order to summarize data for families to understand the effect that a certain intervention has on their child’s behavior.
Warner, R. M. (2013). Applied statistics: From bivariate through multivariate techniques, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Descriptive Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statdesc.php
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