My journey to becoming a quantitative researcher had a shaky start. I first registered for a quantitative research methods course in 2010 as an honors student at Wits University. After a few days paging through the prescribed textbook, I decided that I might have bitten off more than I could chew and dropped the class a week later. Although my honors thesis required me to do some basic data analysis, I did not have enough confidence to take the course with master’s students.
Fortunately, I got a second chance when I was invited to attend the Afrobarometer summer school in Cape Town later in the year. This gave me the confidence to register for a semester course in quantitative methods at Wits the following year. I completed the course with an “A” and was invited to assist with the ASRI course in Ghana a month later. I have been an assistant in the course every year since the course was launched in 2011, and have also presented some lectures since 2013.
The years I’ve spent assisting in the ASRI course have not only solidified my skills in data analysis, they have also helped me to become a better researcher. The experience has also helped me to get a teaching position at UCT, where I co-teach a course in data analysis for political scientists. I hope to continue to inspire more students and researchers across Africa to enroll for courses in quantitative research – hopefully not to quit in the first week—since everyone won’t get a second chance!
— Alecia Ndlovu