Courtney Goodwin

As a senior, I am close to graduating and am figuring out the next steps in my life. My goals have significantly changed, especially since starting my senior year. Undertaking different projects, in both the applied and research aspects of the field of psychology has broadened my views and changed my path. One thing that has changed along the way is my relationship with statistics. 

Courtney, a woman with long blonde hair, stands in a red flannel shirt among autumn leaves holding a fan of leaves towards the camera

During my time at UNH, I have participated in a couple of different research projects. During my junior year, I decided to dip my toe into research, so I joined Dr. Ellen Cohn’s legal socialization lab. Legal socialization is broadly defined as how people acquire their beliefs and opinions regarding the law, legal authorities, and other legal procedures. I helped with some of the research that the doctorate students in the lab were working on. I did a little background research for them, found articles on their topic, and peer-reviewed their papers. This past summer I decided to begin my research through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). For this project, I spent ten weeks looking at data collected on the role that different parental behaviors have on their teenager's involvement in delinquent, or rule-violating, behaviors. I specifically looked into how depression and parenting styles combined affect rule-violating behavior.  

For the research I did over the summer, I conducted a secondary analysis of data that was already collected and stored in my lab. Secondary analyses are those that are conducted with data that has already been collected and tested by others in the past. Primary analyses are the first ones done with a new set of data collected for a specific hypothesis. I completed a secondary analysis to see if there were any relations between a different set of variables.  

To see these relations, however, I needed to have a deeper understanding of statistics. This presented a challenge to me however because my previous experience with statistics was during a J-Term course during the height of COVID my freshman year. In all honesty, I barely remembered the statistical program that I used, SPSS, and I felt that I was in over my head. However, with the guidance of my lab advisor, I was able to work directly with one of the doctoral students in my lab to learn a new statistical program. It is called JAMOVI and is an extremely user-friendly program that does the same form of statistics as SPSS. The doctorate student taught me how to input my data and click the right form of analyses I wanted to do. Not only did I learn how to input data and learn what the outputting numbers mean, but I also learned how to interpret these numbers and what they mean for my research. This was probably the hardest part, understanding how the statistics can be described in a way that is understandable.  

This experience enabled me to continue my research during the school year to complete an Honors Thesis. My current research is looking at the role of emotions and parenting styles on specific kinds of delinquent behaviors.