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Archive for March, 2009

MGT5028 Statistics Activity 9

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Activity 9 includes a one sample t-test, an independent samples t-test, and a one-way ANOVA. This assignment builds on Activity 7 (t-tests) and Activity 8 (one-way ANOVA). I did well on both of these so I am hopeful that #9 will follow along. I did have issues with #7 as I found it was the most difficult of all the assignments to date. I am finally getting the hang of reading SPSS output, which is very different from what the old Minitab output looked like during my MBA days. That course also forced us to do many of the calculations ourselves. I am finding that just plunking the numbers in SPSS does not help me understand the concepts, which is necessary because the assignments require this analysis.

The textbook, Norušis’ SPSS 16.0 Guide to Data Analysis (2009), is not particularly helpful but it does have examples. If you can follow the examples you can infer how to complete the assignments at the end of the chapters. However, some of the questions are asked in such a way that I have to read them several times to “get” what I am looking to answer. Each chapter has a few answers in the back of the book but these are pretty basic answers. It’s not like every odd answer is in the back like some texts.

MGT5028 has 12 assignments so I suppose I am 75% complete, having finished 8 assignments. I turned in #8 yesterday and am starting on #9 today. In addition to the Norušis text, I have a several others plus a bunch of website favorite links. A course like statistics is pretty tough to learn through independent study, which is pretty much what I am doing. I keep telling myself this is my last core course before the research phase of my coursework. I am pretty pumped about that!

Here’s part of Activity 9 so that you can get an idea of the assignment:

One sample t-test

Use renal.sav and do the following: Using “length of stay” as the test variable, conduct a hypothesis test on whether the average length of stay is 14 days. State the hypothesis to be tested. State the reject/not reject decision and conclusion. You should state the variables you are analyzing, display the SPSS output, and add a brief analysis of the output. The analysis should be a brief write up of what you conclude from the output and any insights you might have.

Sounds pretty straightfoward so I hope to finish this activity this weekend. With plenty of coffee and ibuprofen, I should be able to make that happen!

Become a Lifelong Learner: It’s Easier Than You Think

Friday, March 27th, 2009

One of the keys to personal and community success is creating a learning environment. Everyone around you benefits when you choose to increase your knowledge and skill sets. Although formal education is important, a lifelong learner is one who is always on the lookout to learn something.

Read more at:


AVON Calling!

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

I am having great success with my new AVON business. I love the products and have found them to be real bargains as well. I have been in sales for many years but never in “direct selling” products. It’s really fun putting into action so many of the business ideas and models I have studied. For example, branding is so very important with name recognition and product perception to be tantamount. AVON is a widely known and loved brand, conjuring up all kinds of sentimental ideas. And today, the company continues to invest in products and marketing, representative training and internet sales. Representatives like me have a website and all the tools and training to become successful in business. Customers can place orders and have products shipped directly to their home, and free or discounted shipping codes are always available!

AVON sponsors a number of charities through direct donation and percentage of sales donations. The AVON Foundation has raised over $600 million for breast cancer research, emergency relief programs, and domestic violence awareness. This link will take you to a list of 2008 grant recipients. I am proud to say that my organization is focused on the community and helping others.

Consider the AVON business model. Anyone can become a rep for $10, which includes two weeks worth of brochures, samples, forms, a district manager, training, access to sales tips and rep forum, etc. No big investment in portfolios or sample stock! You also get the brand recognition and reputation in the market. Your sales earnings percentage is pretty high and moves up with volume sales. I am really enjoying this new experience and the earnings are great, too! If you are interested in becoming a representative or buying the products, I will be happy to tell you about AVON.

AVON calling!

President Obama & Education: Part Three

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

I have been reading about President Obama’s Blueprint for Change plans for education, found here. He outlines three main points: (1) greater investment in pre-school programs, (2) No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will be reformed, and (3) higher education will become affordable to all Americans.  This post is the last of three exploring these initiatives and commenting on same.

How would we reduce the cost of education? Force colleges to reduce tuition? Give more taxpayer dollars to students in the form of grants? Make higher education free and pay the school out of government coffers? Force students to “attend now, pay later?” (oh my think of the credit card debt!)? Assess the average cost per year of attendance and reduce student’s taxes by that much? Make college free or close to free? The President has already discussed his desire to increase spending on Pell Grants by 75% over the next 10 years and discard private loans for education. Where will the money come from? Taxes, of course.  

Higher education can be made more affordable but care must be taken to retain integrity in coursework. We must be careful that we do not reduce standards so that everyone can go to college and obtain a degree. A degree should be difficult to obtain, making it all the more desirable. A society needs all levels of training and education. Even though I am an advocate for learning, I cannot support the idea of universal higher education. There are many people who do not have the skill set to succeed academically. There are many wonderful programs in technical schools and other training programs. What would happen if everyone had a bachelor’s degree and no one a techical certification? No plumbers, no electricians, no paramedics…..I believe that each person must assess his skill set and pursue a path that makes sense for him.

Colleges and universities are businesses even if they are “non-profit.” A business is in competition with other businesses. Budgets, cash flow, payroll…these are all concerns that businesses and universities must tackle. A business should succeed or fail based on its output and profit. Making college affordable should not mean that the government will subsidize everyone’s education. This will only keep substandard institutions open that would fail otherwise. No, a university is a business and if it has a poor business model or unsuccessful graduates it should fail. Keeping it afloat with government subsidies from students is a poor excuse. Competition in higher education is a good thing. Keeping government money at bay is also a good thing.

Higher education has not failed in its mission, so why would it need intervention? College is tough and rightly so; not everyone can handle academic rigor. College is not for everyone now and never should be. Those who are willing to sacrifice money, time, and effort know the value of an education. Giving away education will simply cheapen it in our society. Money means control and our government knows so little about education. Education is not listed as an unalienable right according to the Constitution. We need to think about what government’s role should be…but it should not cross the line into controlling who goes to college.

Education is already accessible to citizens in the United States. Does making it affordable make it better? I don’t think so. Thank you, Mr. Obama, for bringing awareness to education reform. Making college affordable is a political volley, not a serious one. Let the market determine the value of a degree – if tuition is too high, colleges will not have customers (students). If a college churns out poor workers, then it should fail. Making college affordable is not the answer to making the USA academically competitive with other nations. We need tougher degree standards and more relevant coursework to make that happen.

This post is the conclusion in the series, “President Obama & Education.”

President Obama & Education: Part Two

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

I have been reading about President Obama’s Blueprint for Change plans for education, found here. He outlines three main points: (1) greater investment in pre-school programs, (2) No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will be reformed, and (3) higher education will become affordable to all Americans.  This post is the second of three exploring these initiatives and commenting on same.

President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002 with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The purpose of the bill was to increase standards of accountability in an effort to improve the performance of primary and secondary education. The act was based on the theory of outcomes-based education, or the premise that setting standards and measurable goals improves individual student outcomes. Unfortunately, test scores do not always represent learning. Moving from testing to writing, a student must exhibit comprehension and critical thinking skills.

In one elementary school that I visited, every day the children went to the “Learning Lab” and worked on the computer. Essentially, the software presented multiple choice questions. Any questions answered incorrectly at the end of a session were repeated until the student chose the correct answer. The questions were given in random order, with no obvious logical connection between questions. Teaching to the test…is this learning?

President Obama’s Blueprint for Change states:

No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers.

Yes, Mr. President, NCLB did not result in positive education reform. We cannot point to significant improvements in learning and student success. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to reform education in this country, but we cannot even hope to find a one-size-fits-all solution. We have bypassed the basics in our primary schools and our children are not prepared for higher learning. Many have written on reforming education and I hope that you are listening. I like what Arne Duncan, your pick for Education Secretary, said his first day on the job, “No issue is more pressing than education. … It is the civil rights issue of our generation.”  

Thank you, Mr. Obama, for bringing awareness to education reform. NCLB is not the answer, it was merely a beginning. NCLB forced us to narrow our curriculum and teach test-taking to our children. We must start with reforming teaching methods and curriculum; and forget that learning is not always something that can be tested. Learning is obvious only when thinking happens. Let’s teach our children to think.

Remember to check back for Part Three in this series, “President Obama & Education.”