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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


SPSS Class Notes

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 3.75 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 20, 2010 by Statistics Editorial Board
Overview: This resource includes both written and video instruction on the basics of using SPSS. Topics include Entering Data, Exploring Data, Modifying Data, Managing Data, and Analyzing Data.
Learning Goals: Students will learn some of the fundamentals about how to use SPSS, including reading data into SPSS and managing data. By exploring more of the links on this site, students can learn more about how to perform certain types of analyses and they can watch short videos on how to use SPSS.
Target Student Population: Because of the inclusion of basic information about getting started with SPSS, in addition to more advanced statistical analyses that can be done using SPSS, this site would be good for beginning statistics students and also more advanced students. In other words, any individual who wants to learn about or needs help using SPSS would find some value in this site.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A basic understanding of introductory statistics and the usefulness of software to explore statistical problems would be helpful. Students should also have access to SPSS.
Type of Material: Tutorial, Reference Material
Recommended Uses: This can be used as outside-of-class reference material for students who need to use SPSS in a statistics course.
Technical Requirements: Web browser for written tutorials; Flash plug-in (free) for video tutorials.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: The site provides a very comprehensive set of reference materials for SPSS users. Each link leads to a new site that includes appropriate graphics and multimedia. Many pages include links to example data sets so students can download the data and follow along. The site is well organized and easy to navigate through. The tutorials clearly show how to use SPSS. The user has both written notes to print and an accompanying video that delineates step-by-step instructions on the basics of SPSS.
Concerns: This particular site is labeled "SPSS Learning Modules." All of the modules on this site, however, seem to relate only to getting started with SPSS, entering data, and managing data. At the very top of the page, there is an "SPSS" link that users can click on to find much more information (including links to other SPSS references and tutorials, some SPSS movies, and more information about how to conduct specific analyses using SPSS). It might be nice, on the SPSS Learning Modules page, to include more links related to actually exploring and analyzing data. I also noted that two bullets under the section "Fundamentals of Using SPSS" were not active hyperlinks: Introduction to what SPSS can do, and Exploring data with graphics. Why are these included here if there is no information individuals can read on these topics? The tutorials are for SPSS versions 9-15. However, since only the basics are being addressed, the tutorial should still function as a supplement to instruction.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths: It's certainly important to have comprehensive references like this out there, and this is a reference that can easily be linked to on a course web site. Instructors might assign different modules for students to look out outside of class, or even bring some of the interesting data sets on this site into the classroom for further exploration. The strength of this resource are the video tutorials, which are clear, easy to follow, and well produced.
Concerns: This is not really a resource that seems to promote student discovery or develop critical thinking skills among students. Perhaps if there were some built in "quizzes" where students could assess their understanding of certain concepts or ideas. The site is really meant--in my opinion--to show sets of procedures and steps related to how to use SPSS. There is some information provided about how to interpret output, and this is good. I worry, however, that some of the information on the site may now be outdated. The site indicates that most information provided is based on SPSS v. 15; many students today (as of March 2010) are now using SPSS v. 18. Has this been taken into account? Also, the modules all show syntax that can be used in SPSS but don't take the time to share the different menu commands students can use to get comparable output. Not all students who use SPSS will be entering their own syntax.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The site is well organized and well-labeled. Many graphics are included on the site, and there are links for users to go to in order to report problems on the site, or to find out more about how to cite information on different pages. If students explore more of the links near the top of the SPSS Learning Modules page, they can find many other great resources related to SPSS. Written notes are easy to print off. Video tutorials were produced in the ubiquitous multiplatform Flash format.
Concerns: The users screen resolution must be set to at least 1024 by 768 to view the videos.