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  • This group activity focuses on conducting an experiment to determine which of two brands of paper towels are more absorbent by measuring the amount of water absorbed. A two-sample t-test can be used to analyze the data, or simple graphics and descriptive statistics can be used as an exploratory analysis. Students are asked to think about design issues, and to write a short report stating their results and conclusions, along with an evaluation of the experimental design. Key words: Two-sample t-test

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  • The activity is designed to help students develop a better intuitive understanding of what is meant by variability in statistics. Emphasis is placed on the standard deviation as a measure of variability. As they learn about the standard deviation, many students focus on the variability of bar heights in a histogram when asked to compare the variability of two distributions. For these students, variability refers to the "variation" in bar heights. Other students may focus only on the range of values, or the number of bars in a histogram, and conclude that two distributions are identical in variability even when it is clearly not the case. This activity can help students discover that the standard deviation is a measure of the density of values about the mean of a distribution and to become more aware of how clusters, gaps, and extreme values affect the standard deviation. Key words: Variability, standard deviation

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  • This group activity illustrates the concepts of size and power of a test through simulation. Students simulate binomial data by repeatedly rolling a ten-sided die, and they use their simulated data to estimate the size of a binomial test. They carry out further simulations to estimate the power of the test. After pooling their data with that of other groups, they construct a power curve. A theoretical power curve is also constructed, and the students discuss why there are differences between the expected and estimated curves. Key words: Power, size, hypothesis testing, binomial distribution

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  • This activity is an advanced version of the "Keep your eyes on the ball" activity by Bereska, et al. (1999). Students should gain experience with differentiating between independent and dependent variables, using linear regression to describe the relationship between these variables, and drawing inference about the parameters of the population regression line. Each group of students collects data on the rebound heights of a ball dropped multiple times from each of several different heights. By plotting the data, students quickly recognize the linear relationship. After obtaining the least squares estimate of the population regression line, students can set confidence intervals or test hypotheses on the parameters. Predictions of rebound length can be made for new values of the drop height as well. Data from different groups can be used to test for equality of the intercepts and slopes. By focusing on a particular drop height and multiple types of balls, one can also introduce the concept of analysis of variance. Key words: Linear regression, independent variable, dependent variables, analysis of variance

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  • Which is more robust against outliers: mean or median?  This app demonstrates the (in)stability of these descriptive statistics as the value of an outlier and the number of data points change.

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  • The Caesar Shift is a translation of the alphabet; for example, a five-letter shift would code the letter a as f, b as g, ... z as e. We describe a five-step process for decoding an encrypted message. First, groups of size 4 construct a frequency table of the letters in two lines of a coded message. Second, students construct a bar chart for a reference message of the frequency of letters in the English language. Third, students create a bar chart of the coded message. Fourth, students visually compare the bar chart of the reference message (step 2) to the bar chart of the coded message (step 3). Based on this comparison, students hypothesize a shift. Fifth, students apply the shift to the coded message. After decoding the message, students are asked a series of questions that assess their ability to see patterns. The questions are geared for higher levels of cognitive reasoning. Key words: bar charts, Caesar Shift, encryption, testing hypotheses

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  • Explore the functionality of your scientific calculator.

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  • This applet is designed to approximate the value of Pi. It accomplishes this purpose by firing random data points at a circle inscribed within a square. The probability of a data point landing within the circle is a ratio of the circle's area to the area of the square.

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  • An applet explores the following problem: A long day hiking through the Grand Canyon has discombobulated this tourist. Unsure of which way he is randomly stumbling, 1/3 of his steps are towards the edge of the cliff, while 2/3 of his steps are towards safety. From where he stands, one step forward will send him tumbling down. What is the probability that he can escape unharmed?

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  • Students explore the definition and interpretations of the probability of an event by investigating the long run proportion of times a sum of 8 is obtained when two balanced dice are rolled repeatedly. Making use of hand calculations, computer simulations, and descriptive techniques, students encounter the laws of large numbers in a familiar setting. By working through the exercises, students will gain a deeper understanding of the qualitative and quantitative relationships between theoretical probability and long run relative frequency. Particularly, students investigate the proximity of the relative frequency of an event to its probability and conclude, from data, the order on which the dispersion of the relative frequency diminishes. Key words: probability, law of large numbers, simulation, estimation

    Includes project file for Minitab and coding for a dice rolling simulation.

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