I’m dictating this from the car which should suggest that the work schedule today is a little off. I have a problem with my printer cartridge and I will really want to print off the draft manuscript of my revised paper so that I can make some further revisions. Of course this means that I am also going to do a couple of errands. I just went to the bank. Now I am going to the shopping mall to pick up some cleaning solution for my daughter. And then I’m going to stop at the tobacconist that is near the mall and see what they have. This is going to take a little bit of time. And of course I will end up eating lunch out somewhere and that will take up even a little more time. So my schedule while flexible is not necessarily going to be fulfilled today. Such is life.
Today so far has been a mix of both pipe smoking and working. I think that that is an excellent combination when I can afford to do both at the same time. The pipe smoking however often leads me off of whatever topic I’m supposed to be thinking about for work, but that’s okay because I think in the long run it all evens out. So far I’ve written a glowing recommendation for another of my graduate students applying to doctoral programs, I responded to an invitation to speak at a conference in Qatar, and I’ve got myself set up to look at the article that was sent to me to review by a professional journal. I have to say all of this is really not the main point of my work today. I need to finalize the revisions to the paper that I’ve been doing the analysis for now for two weeks. I think I should get to that this afternoon, but I find myself wanting to be distracted. That’s not a bad life.
Anybody who does quantitative analysis will tell you that setting up, running, and organizing the data is really the tedious part. Most of the fun comes in interpreting the data and making some sense of what it tells you related to the real world. But, there’s also a bit of pleasure to be derived from the mechanics of quantitative analysis. While it can be mind-numbingly boring for some people, it also has a rhythm to it that is somehow comforting and provides a real sense of accomplishment when completed. It also requires surprisingly little observable activity to get A LOT accomplished. In other words, if you were to watch me do this you’d think I was just tinkering around with the laptop keyboard…but that would be a deceptive misinterpretation. Most of the action is in the connection between what I’m thinking and how those little keyboard movements are manipulating and shaping the data to tell a story about my research question and what the evidence shows. So, even though this is extremely tedious (and this stage of the data process really is), it can be kind of intellectually fun, too. Now that I’m putting the results of my HLM analyses into data tables I can sense that the end is near. The hunt is coming to a close, slowly but with a real certainty. The video below provides a little taste of what this is like. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a whole lot more than just puttering around with some numbers.
Getting even closer now. These photos show the statistical HLM equation/screen and the output when the model is run for a specific set of data. Just a few more runs and then I can start putting this data into tables that can be understood by my colleagues/peers. And, then I get to interpret the data and link it to my research question. Woohoo! …oh, and now I’m going to finally shower and get dressed before I have to pick up my son from school. They might frown on me showing up at the elementary school in my PJs at 3pm.
I’m still in my pajamas, but have gotten a lot accomplished so far. Setting up the data is boring, but a necessary evil. The exciting stuff is coming…not yet, but it’s coming.
Starting off with a complaint…I use Dragon Dictation for most of my blog entries, and that’s okay sometimes. Today, however, Dragon Dictation is refusing to process my longer recorded statements. So, I am having to stop and save as much as I can every few sentences. This is the antithesis of why I use Dragon Dictation, and is the reason why I don’t use PCs anymore…too much worry about losing data/files. But, I digress. The point of my blog is to talk about what I’m doing on my sabbatical. So, back to the point.
Yesterday was not the most productive day. I did however manage to get a couple of things done. I prioritized my tasks. I put a particular project as the number one priority — which is to complete the manuscript I’m currently writing for CER. This involves doing the revised HLM analyses today. These analyses need to have the data set up properly for each of the GCC countries, the MENA mean, and the international sample. I don’t anticipate much problem with this, but there is always the danger that one variable, case, or decimal point is out of place. So, I have to double check everything before I begin running the analyses with the HLM software. I think it will go smoothly but I’m always a little nervous before I do my HLM. I also wonder if I need to redo any of the chi-square analyses that tell me which variables go into the HLM models. I would rather not redo thise chi-squares because it takes so much time to do that, but I’ll need to think about whether it’s necessary. The point of these analyses is to see whether or not teacher training in the GCC countries is in any way impacted by ICT, and if teachers are trained to use ICT for instruction does that somehow impact their teaching and their students’ learning in the classroom. The hypothesis is that in GCC countries ICT is predominantly used for remediation rather than enrichment. This is perhaps somewhat in contrast to the way that ICT is used in other parts of the world. So to check that we are comparing the GCC with the education systems that the GCC countries look to as examples of smart schooling systems, we are looking at Singapore’s and Malaysia’s data as well. I am really looking forward to the outcomes of these analyses. I think that these revised HLM runs will tell a significantly better story than my original HLM did when I just used the data for Dubai. I’ll check in as the day progresses to make sure that I am accomplishing my goals.
Well, there’s some good and there’s some bad to having a whole day dedicated to statistical analysis. The bad is that you are at the mercy of whatever technology is available to you. But that doesn’t always mean that you can’t get things done. I had some trouble with SPSS that I was able to solve yesterday using Excel but it wasn’t the best or the quickest solution. Now I am behind my analysis a bit and need to get the HLM done today. Most of the data files are set up and it really just is a matter of plugging the files into the HLM software at this point. A more difficult task is revising the whole manuscript and making sure to incorporate the statistical analyses in a way that supports the overall argument and the hypotheses. Such is the life of a large-scale data analyst. On a different note, I am getting used to working in my office alone. The schedule that I set out for myself the other day is working pretty well. I am able to follow it for the most part, but there are still some issues with the stretch of time dedicated to writing or the real work of research in the mornings. And I have found that my afternoons are much messier than my schedule suggests they should be. I have been able to work on my Arabic and German only once since I started this schedule. But, I think that as I get more in the swing of things it will work out better. I am also finding that a half hour for lunch is barely enough time to fix, eat, and clean up after lunch. Perhaps I’m just slow or maybe I need to prepare my lunch the night before. It’s a good problem to have when the real mess-up for the schedule is the time scheduled to eat and not the time scheduled for doing other activities. That’s okay. Now back to HLM and forging on with the analysis, interpretation, and revision of this paper. Who wouldn’t get excited about that!