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Virtual Experiments and Their Use in Teaching Experimental Design

Paul L. Darius, Kenneth M. Portier and Eddie Schrevens
75 (3)
International Statistical Review

The ability to design experiments in an appropriate and efficient way is an important skill, but students typically have little opportunity to get that experience. Most textbooks introduce standard general-purpose designs, and then proceed with the analysis of data already collected. In this paper we explore a tool for gaining design experience: computer-based virtual experiments. These are software environments which mimic a real situation of interest and invite the user to collect data to answer a research question. Two prototype environments are described. The first one is suitable for a course that deals with screening or response surface designs, the second one allows experimenting with block and row-column designs. They are parts of a collection we developed called ENV2EXP, and can be freely used over the web. We also describe our experience in using them in several courses over the last few years.