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Statistical Consulting Center Brings Individualized Support to Grad Student Research

UL Grad School -- 02/10/2020

Graduate students at UL Lafayette now benefit from centralized statistical research support through the new Statistical Consulting Center. Blackboard image

Through individualized consultations with a statistician, graduate students can discuss the questions and objectives of their research and receive tailored guidance in their approaches to these problems.

2019-2020 is a pilot year for the Center, which was developed by the University Committee on Graduate Student Success and Retention in conjunction with the Department of Mathematics. The Center is directed by Associate Professor Dr. Calvin Berry. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jaimie Hebert, the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, and the Graduate School have funded the initiative.

Many graduate students take statistics courses and seek out the statistical expertise of their advisors and committee members while pursuing their degrees. Yet the Retention Committee uncovered the need for approximately 400 hours of additional statistical support for graduate students in a typical semester. To help meet that need, the Statistical Consulting Center will offer graduate students statistical support during all phases of thesis, dissertation, and synthesis project research.

During the Fall 2019 semester, the Statistical Consulting Center worked with graduate students from across the University. Students in biology, communicative disorders, education, engineering, and nursing graduate programs took advantage of the support provided by the new center.

Improved Research Design and Data Interpretation

Graduate students who set up research designs without effectual statistical consultation can jeopardize their timeline and their research.

By seeking assistance with research design, students can ask for the right data from the start, helping them to use their time more effectively. The Center also counsels students on data analyses and interpretation of results.

Christy Hornsby, a Fall 2019 graduate of the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership, recently shared her experience with the Graduate School. “I worked with Dr. Berry for two weeks and truly believed my research would have stalled without his help. The use of the Stats Center helped me to successfully defend my dissertation in a timely manner.”

The Center’s expertise and individualized attention supports students’ progress toward degree completion, while the emphasis on verifying results seeks to improve the caliber of theses, dissertations, and synthesis projects. By choosing to work with the Center and gain additional statistical experience, students can jumpstart their careers. Those advancing in academia will be especially well-prepared for the rigors of peer-review.

“The enthusiasm from our students and faculty for this new center has been overwhelming,” says Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, dean of the Graduate School. “We are pleased to make this new resource available.”

There are future plans to extend the Center’s offerings to include consulting on faculty grant proposal preparation, experimental design, and analyses of research results. The University also hopes to offer statistical consulting services to outside organizations and businesses.

Graduate students who are interested in scheduling a statistical consultation should contact Dr. Calvin Berry directly. The Center will accommodate both in-person and virtual consults.