Cloudy Statistics

feedback and gradeNo preperation or revision . Last minute rush. One day before the deadline. Deadlines are not targets – I should remember that. Books, notes, word documents, excel spreadsheets and powerpoint slides all open on the desk. This is not going to get me a credible mark.

Tackling the latest assignment has been tricky. The task was to write up an APA style report of an experiment looking at verbal facilitation effect and visual face recognition of own and for the first time in such an experiment, other race faces.

Verbalizing Visual Memories
How may language shape our thoughts and perceptions? It has often been assumed that remembering difficult-to-describe visual stimuli, such as faces, is essentially non-verbal. However, a number of studies have demonstrated that verbally describing a visual memory of a face can either interfere with or facilitate subsequent visual recognition. Indeed, verbal facilitation of visual memories has been observed in a number of studies. Verbal interference (commonly termed ‘verbal overshadowing’) also has been observed. Nevertheless, accounts of these phenomena remain controversial, and there is no clear consensus. link

The criteria of the APA format and style is very precise and must be followed. We were told the marks would be weighted towards compliance with the criteria.

I thought it’d be no problem after all formating is easy if the rules are clear. I understood about verbal shadowing and verbal facilitation and about theories explaining the effect. I understood about the other race effect which refers to the finding that individuals can recognise the faces of their same race better than they can recognise faces outside of their race. I had references to studies about both topics. I knew that no studies had investigated the effect of verbal facilitation in other face race recognition tests. The introduction was fine.

The design and method of the experiment were clearly described in the notes and it was relativly straightforward to reformat and describe this in the relevant section of the report.

The results section messed me up. I presented the data which I thought the question specified to be included. Even if I got this correct I could not work out what I was supposed to do with it. I tried everything though nothing made much sense other than a straightforward difference in means. I know I should have done some manipulations on these figures with a few others but which ones and how was my problem. I may have got to then circum-navigated the answer but without confidence in what I was doing had little way of knowing if and when I was right.

Without fathoming out the results properly the discussion section was a bit limited. Based soley on the means I suggested that other race face recognition may be enhanced by describing the face i.e. verbal facilitation. This is quite a claim as it goes against the findings of some other studies and it is the first time verbal facilitation has been evident in other face race recognition. I should have made much more of this than I did. I think it was having no confidence in the sketchy results I came up with that stopped me from doing so. Ignoring the shortfalls in the statistical findings and just assuming my reckoning was right is clearly not the correct way to prove a hypothesis however that is what I did. It was then easy to highlight one of the wider implications of this would be in the field of forensics and other areas where visual face recognition is an important factor.

The reference and title page is an all or nothing thing. Either you follow the (Kent) APA guidelines or you don’t.

It’s a real shame I never put more thought into this assignment. I could have done much better with a bit of time management and preperation.

I’ve also just completed a statistics assignment. Took me a while but got there in the end. With that I was following directions and crunching the numbers without any real understanding of what I was doing and why. This assignment has shown me that it’s perhaps important that I do.

Update March 21.03.07 – here is the grade and comments.

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