Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A little request

I've already posted it the other two online places I hang out, so I might as well here, as well:

do any of you use the program Mathematica? Do you know of any good resources for someone to quickly teach themselves to use the stats functionality of it?

Without going into the whole ugly story, because of budget cuts my university is no longer supporting SPSS come this fall. So if I want to do anything more advanced in stats than t-tests, I need to learn to use Mathematica so that I can teach the students. The two problems:

1. I have NEVER used Mathematica before
2. I can't get time off/funding to go to a weeklong seminar or something like that. It will have to be 100% me sitting in my office reading or going through tutorials, and preferably they are ones that can be done in 15 minute chunks or less, given things like office hours and my absolute unwillingness to come back for three hours in an evening to work on those things after a full day's work.

I'm pretty unhappy about this. The decision was made with very little input from faculty and they didn't even bother to TELL anyone they were making it - my chair found out this week and passed it on to me.

I also know there are open-source online things (I think R is one?) but have also been warned of the learning curve involved with them.

This displeases me a lot because:

a. It's just more time down the drain. I had learned SPSS, I have data sets in SPSS I will have to quickly import into Excel or something if I want to keep them. And I will have to try to learn this program on top of everything else I'm doing (new research, accuracy-checking book chapters)

b. They didn't bother to tell most of the people "on the ground" who were using it. They "forget" about us.

c. Our students already struggle with math so subjecting them to something like R isn't going to work.

d. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate using some kind of new program I'm not fully fluent in because then I have to say stuff like, "I don't know how this works yet" or "I don't know why you got that error" and it makes me feel terribly incompetent. And it looks bad to the students and it just takes that one person to go "You don't know what you're talking about, do you?" to totally damage your reputation.

I have also been warned to brace for maybe having the stats class taken away from me - Math is getting territorial and expressed a dislike of others teaching stats. I SUSPECT this is because they are afraid of being told to cut employees or be merged with another department because I have never, ever, ever had a complaint about how I teach stats, and in fact, people have come back from agency work or grad school and told me how I gave them a good background.

Argh. I thought maybe all the budget junk had been worked out but I guess not.

What do I do if stats is taken from me? Ask if the botanist in the department will give up one of his classes to me and I do a new prep. Or I take on the intro Conservation as a new prep. I don't think at this juncture starting a new class that has never been taught before would be allowed (so nothing like Economic Botany, as fun as that would be to teach). Or I just volunteer to do three sections of the intro-majors class in the fall and feel terribly stupid and dull from doing the same thing all day long.

But yeah. NOT happy.

Edited to add: have talked to one other person who has looked at it, the conclusion is "A person can't learn Mathematica fast enough to teach it a couple months after the first exposure to it." So I'm upset and stymied and unhappy and ragey and really close to walking into Math and going "You want the stats classes back? HERE'S MINE" and mic-drop my way out of there.

I'm just upset. Part of this is that once again, I have it handed to me how very little I matter: no one cares about my happiness or even, heck, my ability to do my job to anything approaching my own satisfaction enough to be bothered with me. I am so tired of going it on my own. I'm researching "free online stats packages" but I lack the time and the energy to research them on such short notice and I suspect I'll make a bad choice because of not having time.

If I were a fricking superstar, if I were any good at anything, someone would care about keeping me "happy" and they'd put in some effort to help me instead of expecting me to figure it out. So I can't even fricking up and quit my job because I'd never get another because I'm not a fricking superstar and I don't matter and I'm so tired and I've worked so hard and everything is being taken away from us and we can't even buy a $10 bunch of flowers to teach floral anatomy without having to get tons of prior approval - there are no department budgets any more, apparently.

I dunno. I really thought we'd turned a corner and all the ridiculousness was over.

Am considering starting some kind of crowdfunding account to buy site licenses for a stats package. But then again, I'd probably be told that was against the rules somehow.

1 comment:

Kim in Oregon said...

I just looked quickly online and the spss stats license for students is fairly reasonable ($35 I think I saw)--is there any way your students could pay for that, perhaps find a cheaper text book or something? The challenging thing is that the individual license for a professor is much more expensive, from what I can tell.