Ryan Hyndman – The Importance of Data Management and Information Literacy Skills

Do you want to learn hard skills that could provide a comfortable lifestyle and a productive attitude? My experience with data management and information literacy throughout my independent study has not only been a complete culmination of my studies at Brock, but it has also taught me practical skills. I was able to learn hard skills such as spreadsheet analysis with crosstabs and gain knowledge of industry standards for economic impact assessments from both professionals in the field and academic supervisors. I found developing these skills to be rewarding in the short-term while also providing a financially comfortable path for the future. This combination of exposure has led me to a newfound confidence to join the work force and pursue what I am passionate about.

Hello! My name is Ryan Hyndman, and I am currently a fourth-year Sport Management student with a minor in Economics here at Brock University! During my last term here at Brock, I had the opportunity to conduct an independent study (SPMA 4P99) under the supervision of Dr. Julie Stevens. A major component of this individual study revolved around a research project in partnership with non-profit organization, Community Researchers (CR).

The Centre has a Memorandum of Understanding with CR where students work on projects to support sport and recreation organizations. CR pairs student researchers with organizations who are looking to have a complementary research study done. Because of my love of sports and my involvement with the Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC), I was paired with non-profit organization, Play On! Canada.

Play On! Canada organizes and stages large-scale street hockey tournaments across Canada and claim to be the largest experiential sports festival in Canadian history. To back this up, they hold the world record for the largest street hockey tournament in terms of participants! My first step was to meet with Play On! and determine what they wanted to have studied about their organization with a needs assessment meeting.

Once, this was completed we came out of the meeting with three objectives for this study: Quantify the economic impact of their events, quantify the social impact of their events, and determine if there is interest in an attendee online portal. From there I worked with the partners to create a survey that effectively asked questions about these three topics. Dr. Stevens provided great guidance here as she helped with the structure of questions, wording of answers, and introduced me to resources that made the survey writing process much smoother.

When the survey was released to the public, it was open for 10 days and closed with over 600 responses! Now came the hard work. I mapped my analysis and the relationships I wanted to examine. This was an important step because with such a long project, it was crucial to have a plan to stay on track and make sure deadlines were met. In addition to the objective questions, we also asked demographics-based questions of respondents. This gave me a baseline to conduct analysis and develop crosstabs to demonstrate the relationship between two or more variables. For example, when asking attendees what their interest level was in an online portal, I was able to dissect the data and report the demographics for the various answers (i.e., 20% of respondents that answered “significant interest” in an online portal identified as a woman).

The economic impact section was a little more difficult. Play On! was interested in studying how much additional spending was brought to communities because of their events. For this, I sat down with Michael Harker, Executive Director of CR, to develop a plan of how to report this. Next, we gathered feedback from Play On! and I gathered feedback from Dr. Stevens on how to move forward.

It was from here that Mr. Harker introduced me to the Province of Ontario’s Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM). TRIEM is a program that generates economic impact information such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), jobs created, and taxes generated based on detailed visitor spending data. Because we had asked spending related questions, we had this information and were able to generate these values for an average Play On! event.

Specifically, this part of the project was interesting to me because having a minor in economics, this was one of the first times I was able to combine the knowledge I was able to learn from my Economics courses and combine it with the knowledge I had gained from Sport Management courses!

Mr. Harker throughout the process repeated to me that some of the work I had been doing for this report, some organizations would pay thousands of dollars to have done. Upon some basic research, I found this to be true as Americans for the Arts, a non-profit arts advocacy organization, begins their prices for customized economic impact assessments at $3,500 USD. So, not only was I working on a project that combined my two academic interests, but this project also taught me data management and information literacy hard skills that could one day lead to a good paying job.

Building spreadsheets, analyzing data, writing reports, does not sound like interesting work, and I’ll be the first one to admit that, but there is something about the whole process that feels very rewarding. From watching the responses come in one by one, to making charts, to identifying relationships, there is a sense of completion and productiveness that made me feel like an industry professional. I still have a long way to go to get to that point, but I feel that this project and the skills I learned throughout the process helped effectively prepare myself for careers that I hope to pursue.

If I could leave one piece of advice for students moving forward, it is to seek opportunities to gain exposure to elements of an industry that you are passionate about and pursue them. Plain and simple, without this independent study, my data management and information literacy skills would not be as developed as they are today. Learning how to use TREIM and practicing crosstabs are just a couple of the many practical skills I used, and I can say without a doubt, this experience has opened the door for me to be able to develop applicable capabilities to bring value to potential employers. Although I hope to apply this experience to the sports industry, these skills are highly transferable to almost all industries and I highly recommend that anyone looking to gain a competitive advantage expose themselves to similar professional development opportunities!

If you are interested in connecting with the CSC, visit the CSC website for any placement/volunteer positions or directly reach out by submitting an. A CSC team member will be happy to follow up with you.

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