Beyond Spreadsheets: Mary Ann Shifflet, University of South Indiana
“I love being able to tell my students that if they learn JMP, it will be a skill they can put on their resume that will set them apart from other applicants.”
-- Mary Ann Shifflet, Professor, Romain College of Business, University of Southern Indiana
Beyond Spreadsheets is a blog series that highlights how JMP customers are augmenting their tools and processes for exploratory data analysis to make breakthrough discoveries. We are featuring Q&As with JMP users to learn more about how and why their organizations bring Excel data into JMP to create graphics and explore what-if scenarios.
Our fourth interview in the series is with Mary Ann Shifflet, statistics professor and JMP advocate.
JMP user since 2012
Favorite JMP features: Graph Builder, Distribution, Fit Model
Proudest professional moment: Receiving the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2012 for redesigning an Elementary Statistics course to incorporate JMP.
What do you like most about the type of work you do?
There are two things that I really enjoy about teaching statistics to college students. One is seeing the lightbulb come on for someone who has been trying to understand a difficult concept. The other is a little more subtle; it’s knowing that I am teaching them one of the most important elements of their course work in the College of Business. All business decisions require the use of data, so laying that foundation is critical. If you look at the skills required for a career in business, many of them have to do with data analysis and problem solving – the skills taught in my course.
Why do you use JMP in your teaching?
I use JMP in my teaching because I wanted students to be able to do real data analysis when they leave my class – or at the very least, be able to summarize and interpret data. I wanted to give them a tool that would allow them to develop a little bit of confidence in using data for business decisions. I had used other programs in my professional practice, but JMP was the one that we selected.
Since incorporating JMP in the class, I am able to teach some relatively sophisticated regression modeling and diagnostics – sophisticated for a sophomore-level course, at least. This modeling would not be possible if we were doing the calculations by hand with scientific calculators or even if we were using Excel.
In what ways have you used Excel for teaching statistical analysis? How is using JMP different?
We, of course, use it [Excel] for data input and storage, but I have not used it much for analysis. I made the transition from using TI-84 calculators to JMP for analysis.
I find JMP much easier to use than Excel and easier to incorporate in the class.
There were a number of things to consider as we made this transition, not the least of which was availability. Any student who has a computer probably has Excel on it. Students didn’t have JMP available, which is why we felt it was essential to give them free access to it. We were able to do that through a campus-wide academic license.
I find JMP makes it very easy for me to teach students the steps to use in acquiring the necessary output. The ease of use, along with the support features available with JMP, make it ideal for my purposes.
How have students reacted to using JMP?
The initial feedback from students in the first experimental section was very positive, leading us to transition all of my sections to the JMP model more quickly than we had originally planned. As time has passed, I have received mostly positive feedback. I have had students come back after leaving the class and tell me they were able to use JMP for projects in other classes and even in some team competitions. Several students were able to obtain very good internships due to their experience with JMP in the classroom.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Since JMP is such an easy tool to use, I have the opportunity to focus much more on the business decision aspects of data analysis. As a result, students leave the class truly able to use data to support their business decisions.
I hear many people say that students need to be able to use Excel for data analysis since that may be their only data analysis option in many companies. While that may be true, I love being able to tell my students that if they learn JMP, it will be a skill they can put on their resume that will set them apart from other applicants. Knowing a software program like JMP communicates something different – and in my view, better – than simply knowing how to use Excel to analyze data.
Ready to go beyond spreadsheets? Visit www.jmp.com/beyond and learn how to augment your existing processes for exploratory data analysis to uncover information you might miss from using spreadsheets alone.