This is me coming clean to anyone reading this. Although, it’s not something I’ve necessarily kept a secret from absolutely everyone – I’ve openly told some people about it, although It’s kind of embarrassing to be honest. And I feel it’s definitely contributed to one of my weaknesses as an animal trainer … something that lately I have become more and more aware of.
So here’s the confession … I think I kind of, might have “cheated” at University to get my degree. Here’s what I mean … I currently hold a Bachelors of Science from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Being a science degree I obviously had to produce scientific reports – part of which was collecting and displaying data.
When it came to writing these reports I wrote amazing abstracts & introductions, followed by really well articulated discussions and conclusions. Sandwiched in the middle of all of these things though was the data collection and analysis component.
I did this component. But I found it really challenging and confusing. I didn’t like the computer software we were required to use and I also knew something about how to get a degree … & that was I didn’t really need to worry about the data section to get good grades.
The Data section was only worth a small component of the entire marks for the paper. So as mentioned I just aced the abstract, intro, discussion and conclusion and normally scored about 75%. Boom I have a degree! (I was between the ages of 18-21 when I did this, now obviously I would make different decisions)
Now bringing us up to 2019 – recently we created some content here at ATA with an amazing human being by the name of Eduardo Fernandez. First was a podcast which we named “Everyone can shape with data” You can see this here >>> http://bit.ly/ATA_Eduardo
This was then followed up by an even more amazing ATA premium members only web-class where Eduardo went in depth, sharing how to do specific animal training related data collection, for example preference testing. As mentioned the web-class is for ATA premium members only. however you can access it today, with a 10 day $1 ATA trial membership here >>> http://bit.ly/ATA_Trial_Membership
When I was at uni, I thought I was pretty clever to do as little data collection and analysis as possible. Now I realise that it’s a skill I need to develop to become the best trainer I can be. As Eduardo reminded us, to call ourselves behaviour analysts, we need to actually analyse behavior (I.e collect data, analyse it & then make our decisions based on what the data tells us).
Additionally, to build on this I am currently enrolled and practically applying myself within the Karen Pryor professional dog training certification! Part of what I am learning about is how to collect and understand your data (and they also provide amazing data sheets on how to do this). It seems potentially the universe is trying to tell me something, hehehe 😉
So I am setting myself a challenge. And to be honest with you – I am shaking my head as I write this because I have been avoiding this since I finished my degree nearly 15 years ago! I need accountability and am going to challenge myself here in front of the whole ATA audience to do more data collection.
My first approximation is admitting I have a problem, hence this post! What about you – do you systematically collect data from your animal training? Do you think this is important? Please feel free to share your thoughts, feelings, questions and ideas with me by leaving your comments below – I look forward to hearing from you.
Animal Training Academy