Psychology professor writes statistics blog for students

Jessica Hartnett, an associate professor in Gannon University’s psychology program, shares her love of statistics with students and the world alike through a statistics blog called Not Awful and Boring Ideas for Teaching Statistics.
Hartnett started at Gannon in 2009 right after she received her doctorate in social/industrial-organizational psychology from Northern Illinois University, teaching mainly statistics, including online and honors sections.
Her continued teaching encouraged her to keep looking for new techniques to use in her classes.
“Teaching stats is super hard,” Hartnett said.
It’s always good to keep looking at new ways to teach statistics and use more interesting examples. Most statistics textbooks are written the same, Hartnett said. There isn’t anything wrong with them; they’re just boring.
In addition to the interest she gained in statistics during her doctoral work, this was part of what led her to start the blog.
Originally the blog was something for her to track different data she came across on social media. Hartnett started tracking it for her purposes and stored the information in a blog. Back then, it was just private.
That was until one day when she decided to share her blog posts and make it public. What had stopped her from making it public before had been fear.
She didn’t know how people would respond. Once it was shared, the response was very positive.
“I shared it one day and the reception has been very warm,” Hartnett said.
Since then, Hartnett has received over 300,000 page views from around the world and has over 385 posts. She has reached an audience beyond statistics professors at other universities.
There are epidemiologists and criminal justice types, anyone with an interest in statistics, which should not come as a surprise either.
“Statistics are everywhere, every field and job,” she said.
With the blog, she has gotten opportunities for speaking engagements, a contract to write a statistics textbook and has seen her content taught in classrooms around the world.
“It’s super rewarding,” Hartnett said.
Not only does content from her blog make it to other classrooms across the world, but she uses it in her own classes. Hartnett’s classroom is a place for her to test new ideas and theories.
For Hartnett’s students, that’s been working well. Many students enjoy the classes they’ve taken with her.
“The material is an interesting perspective within psychology, and she teaches it very well,” Renee Laufer, a senior psychology major, said. “She is engaging and funny.”
Laufer wasn’t the only student who felt that way. Jan Logsdon, a fellow senior psychology major, said.
“I could tell that she really liked the material and that she was passionate about it,” she agreed.
In a typical semester, Hartnett teaches four classes, three of which are statistics classes. With the help of the blog, she gets to test new material in the classroom. Many of the students don’t even know she runs a blog.
Logsdon said, “I didn’t know she had a blog!”
Laufer agreed.
“I did not know about her blog,” Laufer said. “I don’t think she has mentioned it in class.”
Now that she knows about the blog, Logsdon said she’s interested in it. “I have to go check it out now.”
Find Hartnett’s blog at http://notawfulandboring.blogspot.com/, where she typically posts once a week.

ALEXA ROGERS
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