This is the first in our occasion series featuring a member of the Data@Reed Team. We start with out newest member, Helen Scharber, Quantitative Skills and Academic Support Coordinator.
What is your role at Reed?
I’m the Quantitative Skills and Academic Support Coordinator at Reed. The Quantitative Skills part means that I run workshops and provide coaching sessions on math skills and study strategies. That’s my favorite part of the job! The Academic Support Coordinator part means I do useful administrative things to support tutoring and other academic support activities.
How do you support data at Reed?
Successful data analysis often relies on having good fundamental math or quantitative reasoning skills. I work with students on those skills in coaching sessions, and we often discuss other things that can indirectly support their work, like study strategies and time management.
What is the hardest thing about working with data?
I find cleaning and preparing data to be the hardest part of working with data. It’s so satisfying, once your data is in shape, to do the analyses and see whether your hypotheses are supported or not. But it seems like, for every hour of the fun part, there are 20 hours of getting the data in order.
Favorite data visualization?
I love the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music visualization that Edward Tufte reprinted in his Visual Explanations book. The image was created in 1975, and I think helps stretch our idea of what “data” are while also reminding us that good design is just as important as fancy technology. (Although fancy technology is really nice!)
Favorite data resource?
Honestly, my favorite data resource is the collective knowledge and generosity of everyone who has asked or answered a question related to R, Stata, MySQL or Excel on an online forum. None of my projects using data could have gotten done without their help.