## Description

The study of statistics is gaining recognition in a great many fields. In particular, researchers in the social and health sciences note its importance for problem solving and its practical importance in their areas. Statistics has always been important, for example, among those hoping to enter careers in medicine but more so now due to the increasing emphasis on “Scientific Inquiry&Reasoning Skills” as preparation for theMedical College Admission Test (MCAT). Sociology, always relying on statistics and research for its core emphases, is now included in the MCAT as well.

This book focuses squarely on the procedures important to an essential understanding of statistics and how it is used in the real world for problem solving. Moreover, my discussion in the book repeatedly ties statistical methodology with research design (see the “companion” volume my colleague and I wrote to emphasize research and design skills in social science; Abbott and McKinney, 2013).

I emphasize applied statistical analyses and as such will use examples throughout the book drawn from my own research as well as from national databases like GSS and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Using data from these sources allow students the opportunity to see how statistical procedures apply to research in their fields as well as to examine “real data.” A central feature of the book is my discussion and use of SPSS® and Microsoft Excel® to analyze data for problem solving.

Throughout my teaching and research career, I have developed an approach to helping students understand difficult statistical concepts in a new way. I find that the great majority of students are visual learners, so I developed diagrams and figures over the years that help create a conceptual picture of the statistical procedures that are often problematic to students (like sampling distributions!).

Another reason for writing this book was to give students a way to understand statistical computing without having to rely on comprehensive and expensive statistical software programs. Since most students have access toMicrosoft Excel, I developed a step-by-step approach to using the powerful statistical procedures in Excel to analyze data and conduct research in each of the statistical topics I cover in the book.1

I also wanted to make those comprehensive statistical programs more approachable to statistics students, so I have also included a “hands-on” guide to SPSS in parallel with the Excel examples. In some cases, SPSS has the only means to perform some statistical procedures, but in most cases, both Excel and SPSS can be used.

Here are some of the features of the book:

1. Emphasis on the interpretation of findings.

2. Use of clear examples from my existing and former research projects and large databases to illustrate statistical procedures. “Real-world” data can be cumbersome, so I introduce straightforward procedures and examples in order to help students focus more on interpretation of findings.

3. Inclusion of a data lab section in each chapter that provides relevant, clear examples.

4. Introduction to advanced statistical procedures in chapter sections (e.g., regression diagnostics) and separate chapters (e.g., multiple linear regression) for greater relevance to real-world research needs.

5. Strengthening of the connection between statistical application and research designs.

6. Inclusion of detailed sections in each chapter explaining applications from Excel and SPSS.