Chris Daman, an Analytical Training Consultant for SAS, says teaching statistics to data scientists isn't that different from teaching math to teenagers. Ultimately, we all need to be engaged and interested when learning. Read on to learn more about Daman and her love for exploring data for unexpected insights, and then be sure to check out the rest of the SAS loves stats series as we focus on the International Year of Statistics.
What do you do at SAS?
As a Senior Analytical Training Consultant, I teach customers how to use statistics and SAS software to explore and analyze their data.
What’s your educational background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s degree in statistics. My first job was teaching math in high school, which was good preparation for teaching SAS customers. With teenage students, I had to make the material relevant and interesting, or they would tune me out. Adults want the same thing – interesting and thought-provoking concepts that they can apply to their jobs.
How do you use statistics in your job?
I teach people how to use statistics to find the “story” in their data, whether through data mining or classical statistical analysis.
Why do you love statistics?
I love how statistics can uncover the story embedded within the data. When you first see a large data set, nothing is notable at a first glance. Once you start applying statistical concepts, the patterns within the data can be “teased out.” At times it feels like Sherlock Holmes in action – following the “clues” and letting the data reveal itself.
Can you comment on the importance of statistics in education?
One of the trends today is to look for quick answers in 30-second sound bites. Studying statistics can teach students to:
- Seek answers for themselves.
- Question the source of information they encounter.
- Understand the assumptions and (possibly) the motivations of those providing information.
- See if they agree with the conclusions put forth.
What advice would you give to students studying statistics today?
When statistics is taught with a “cookbook” approach, it can be boring and may not make a lot of sense. If that has been your experience, give it another try. Since statisticians are among the first to see the results of studies, we have access to the cutting-edge information. We really should be very interesting people, when you think about it!