This website helps students learn concepts underlying statistical inference, through the simulation software, Sampling SIM. This software lets students explore sampling distributions by building population distributions, taking random samples, and exploring the behavior of sampling distributions and confidence intervals. The site includes instructional modules and assessment instruments. Key words: measures of center, sampling, sampling distribution, confidence interval, p-values, power
Winzip (Windows); Stuffit (Mac)
Content Quality Concerns:
There are several different concepts explored in the materials on this site, but it doesn't seem like there is any particular activity for students that attempts to tie all of these concepts together and show how they are all connected. This might be something that is done within the different individual activities, but it would be nice to have at least one activity that attempts to do this, along with more guidance for the instructor about key things that should be pointed out along the way to students. Also, no activity is presented for the p-value topic.
Content Quality Strengths:
The material is well organized and I like that for each main topic covered (sampling distributions, confidence intervals, p-values) there are links presented with the pre-requisite knowledge students should have about that topic, what they should understand about the topic and be able to do with that understand, and what their possible misconceptions about the topic might be. It is very clear this project is based on careful research, and it's a nice touch that papers and presentations related to this project are shared on the website.
Ease of Use Concerns:
For Sampling Distribution activity, this is listed in part of the instructions: "The graphs are formatted to be printed on Avery 6490 labels. These are labels designed for 3.5" diskette labels. The labels are designed to be used in Laser Printers and are guaranteed to not jam." I think some of the technical requirements and instructions should be modernized. It seems the layout of the site might be out-dated now. The site is broken into three different parts, each with its own scroll bar. Having just one page with links along the top, and a "home" button so users can always easily navigate back to the home page, might be more visually appealing. It would also be nice if there could be a link to "instructor resources." These activities are quite complicated with many steps involved. The website is a little awkward to navigate.
Ease of Use Strengths:
The authors give screen shots and detailed written instructions in the lab assignments. The site is relatively easy to navigate.
Potential Effectiveness Concerns:
An instructor who has no knowledge of Sampling SIM or how to use it might find it challenging to incorporate the activities on this site into his/her classroom. There doesn't seem to be as much instructor support on this site as I had hoped to see. A nice touch might be the inclusion of an instructor guide on how to use Sampling SIM, or instructor guides to go along with each activity so the instructor knows what to point out at different times, what misconceptions might come up at particular points in time as students are working, and how to better questions students and prompt them to think about issues that might not automatically come up during discussion. As mentioned before, it seems there could also be an activity that ties together all of the main concepts covered on this site, just so students can more easily see the "big picture." It is also troublesome that the Mac version of Sampling SIM is rather outdated and cannot run on newer Macs. This could pose a challenge for an instructor who wants students who are Mac uswers to access this program outside of class but cannot find a way for them to easily download the program. The assignments are complicated and repetitive. Students may not be able to finish them in a 50-minute class. Students may spend more time trying to figure out how to interpret what the applet is doing than understanding the concepts.
Potential Effectiveness Strengths:
There are many assessment tools presented on this site so that instructors can not only implement different activities but explore student understanding both before and after these activities are used. I can easily see the activities on this site being incorporated into an introductory course, and there are already many great assignment ideas provided to the instructor. Another nice thing is that the site includes a software program that can allow students to engage in simulations and "discover" new things about different topics. The pre- and post-test questions are excellent.
Potential Effectiveness Rating:
Source Code Available:
Source Code Available
Intended User Role:
Free for All