Photo Credit: USI Photography Services
WTF are the initials of Dr. Wendy Turner-Frey, associate professor of social work, but in the age of texting, these three letters make some of us think of something entirely different - Turner-Frey’s intention when developing the name of her new apps for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad: WTF Research and WTF Statistics.
“Students often point out what my initials can stand for, so I thought, ‘I’ll name my application that – it’ll at least get students interested.’”
WTF Research is essentially a decision-making tree for graduate students conducting research. Turner-Frey has used a similar process in past social work graduate classes to teach research methods. “One student pointed out that I should turn my laminated decision-making tree into an app,” Turner-Frey said. So she did.
She took her decision-making tree to Scott Anderson, instructor in computer sciences, who coded the application. The app walks students through a step-by-step process that helps them determine which research methods and tools to use for their chosen topics. “I don’t want to have to carry my students through the program,” Turner-Frey said. “This teaches them to think logically and make connections.”
The app then stores all the data a student inputs, making it easy to reference research ideas. “So often, a student will approach me and say, ‘Now what research method did I decide on?’” Turner-Frey said. “With this app, students don’t have to continually question their methods and tools.” Students also have the option of emailing their results to professors.
Turner-Frey is teaching two research classes this semester and will offer the app as an option for her students to help them with their research. “The app is applicable to all students doing research in the social sciences,” she said.
WTF Statistics, a more elaborate decision-making tree, focusing specifically on statistics. “This will help students decide what stats to run and how to calculate and interpret findings,” Turner-Frey said. “WTF Statistics will assist in making sure students are calculating the data correctly and, more importantly, that they understand what it means.”
With Anderson’s help, Turner-Frey is developing additional apps, including WTF Ideas, which assists faculty in storing research ideas. “There are so many times when I’ll be riding in my car and think of something that would make a great research question,” Turner-Frey said. “This app will allow faculty to quickly store those ideas and help guide their research.”
She’s also developing a mood log designed for patients to use with therapists to evaluate effectiveness of treatment. “This will allow the therapist to see quantitatively how the patient is progressing,” Turner-Frey said.
The final app is one that can be used with persons who are using dialectical behavioral therapy. “Many therapists have patients use worksheets to write out their thoughts and feelings to teach mindfulness,” Turner-Frey said. “This app will allow patients to type in a little about the situation and how they’re feeling physically and emotionally at that point in time. Worksheets are intimidating, and being able to answer a few questions on a phone while you’re waiting in line somewhere or meeting someone is more effective.”
WTF Research and WTF Statistics are available in the iTunes App Store for $2.99 each. For more information, contact Turner-Frey at 812/465-1201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.