A study of student reaction to the use of Minitab in an introductory statistics course.

Stephenson, W. R.
The American Statistician

This study involves an experiment that guages the reaction of students in a university 100 level statistics course. The experimental group was randomly assigned to work with Minitab program (analysis and graphing) and to do normal course work. The control group just did the course work. Questionnaires measuring students' attitude towards computers were given to both groups at the beginning and end of term. Results indicate that students thought computers were useful before and after the course. Students who had actually used the computers were more inclined to strongly agree. It is important that computer use is taught properly otherwise students will become frustrated. Differences between final exam scores of the two groups were not significant (computer group was slightly higher). Volunteers (who participated in either group for the experiment) did have better final grades than students who did not participate. Computer-use group students may have had better marks due simply to the greater exposure with the material and instructors. In conclusion, students can benefit from the use of a statistical data analysis package. However, much of the benefit may derive from the students' increased understanding of the computer system rather than the analysis package itself. Students stated that the use of a computing package did not increase their understanding of statistics but was useful as an ancillary to the statistics course.