A Gentle Introduction to Statistics in SPSS and R

Two-day Workshop

For many people the field of statistics can be incredibly daunting. This workshop is designed as a gentle introduction to the field of statistics, where absolutely no prior knowledge of statistics is assumed. Workshop participants will also be introduced to two of the most popular statistical software packages, SPSS and R.

This workshop is intended for non-statisticians wishing to develop a solid foundation in the use of these techniques. No prior knowledge of statistics is assumed. Participants will also be introduced to SPSS and R, where no prior knowledge of these software packages is also assumed.

Workshop Contents

The workshop will cover:

  • The role of statistics in academic research – summarising data, exploring data, and testing a hypothesis

  • The different types of variables – continuous and categorical

  • Simple graphs for viewing a dataset – scatterplot, histogram, and boxplot

  • An overview of statistical tests and p-values

  • A flowchart for identifying which statistical method to use for particular research questions

  • T-tests and chi-squared tests

  • The importance of testing assumptions made by statistical tests

  • Non-parametric statistics (such as the Mann-Whitney test)

  • A brief overview of linear and logistic regression

  • A very brief overview of more advanced statistical methods

Teaching Style

This workshop uses a combination of three teaching styles:

  • Lectures and classroom discussions

  • Small group discussions

  • Computer exercises

During the lecture sessions the theory of statistics will be presented, and will be discussed in an interactive manner with the class.

Small Group Discussions

During one of the practicals in this workshop, we will read through a number of application papers from a range of fields (including medicine, education, business, and environmental sciences). We will explore what research question is being asked in the paper, the choice of statistical methods used, and an explanation of the results obtained and their interpretation.

Computer Exercises

Each workshop will involve the use of laptop computers. For these sessions participants will be asked to bring their own laptops and will be able to choose which statistical software they would like to use during the workshop. For this workshop, participants will be able to choose which package (R or SPSS) they would like to use during individual hands-on exercises throughout the workshop.

  • Introduction to Statistics – can choose between SPSS and R

  • Introduction to Regression, Longitudinal Data Analysis – can choose between Stata, SPSS and R

Please note that a copy of R will be given to all participants at the start of the workshop, if participants would like to use one of the other software packages then it will be the responsibility of the participant to ensure that they have that software package available on their laptop.

Program Format

The workshop will adhere to the following format. Please note that both teas and lunch are catered on both days, so please be sure to include dietary requirements on your registration form.

Day 1

8:30 - 9:00          Registration
9:00 - 10:30        Lecture 1
10:30 - 11:00      Morning Tea
11:00 - 12:30      Practical 1
12:30 - 1:30        Lunch
1:30 - 3:00          Lecture 2
3:00 - 3:30          Afternoon Tea
3:30 - 5:00          Practical 2

Day 2

9:00 - 10:30        Lecture 3
10:30 - 11:00      Morning Tea
11:00 - 12:30      Practical 3
12:30 - 1:30        Lunch
1:30 - 3:00          Lecture 4
3:00 - 3:30          Afternoon Tea
3:30 - 5:00          Practical 4


Mark Griffin.jpg

Dr Mark Griffin is the Founding Director of Insight Research Services Associated (www.insightrsa.com), and holds academic appointments at the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney. Mark is the Chair of the IIBA Business Analytics Special Interest Group and the IIBA Asia-Pacific Regional Director. Mark also serves on the Executive Committee for the Statistical Society of Australia, and is the Chair of their Section for Business Analytics. Mark has previously taught over 80 two-day workshops and 10 five-day workshops in the fields of Business Analytics and Statistics. Major analytics projects that Mark is or has been involved in include:

  • Mark leads a research group at the University of Queensland conducting analysis of incident reports collated by the Queensland Ambulance Service. The QAS visits approximately 700,000 incidents per year where QAS staff complete a report detailing each incident. This project uses R for text analytics, market segmentation, and spatial mapping (GIS) (2017 to present).

  • Mark is leading a research group at the University of Queensland that are creating an online sample size calculator in R. This software will be used by managers of medical trials who wish to know how many patients to enrol in their trials. This work is being conducted in partnership with research collaborators at Harvard University. This project uses R for developing a web interface and for the mathematical equations involved (2017 to present).

  • Mark has developed software in R for SeqWater (where SeqWater monitors the water quality of all 28 water reservoirs in South-East Queensland). This project uses R for developing a web interface and for statistical analysis using time-series data (2017).

  • Mark led a project team evaluating the delivery of the Positive Parenting Program for the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. This included the collection and analysis of data from 140,000 parents and 1000 practitioners (psychologists) involved in the program. This project used R for statistical analysis and data visualization (2016-2017).