Author Archives: Kari Lock Morgan

About Kari Lock Morgan

Kari Lock Morgan ( is Assistant Professor of Statistics, Department of Statistics, Penn State University

Assessing Knowledge and Understanding of Simulation-Based Inference Without Technology

Kari Lock Morgan, Assistant Professor of Statistics, Penn State University

Computers (or miniature versions such as smart phones) are necessary to do simulation-based inference.  How then can we assess knowledge and understanding of these methods without computers?  Never fear, this can be done!  I personally choose to give exams without technology, despite teaching in a computer classroom once a week, largely to avoid the headache of proctoring a large class with internet access. Here are some general tips I’ve found helpful for assessing SBI without technology:

Much of the understanding to be assessed is NOT specific to SBI.  In any given example, calculating a p-value or interval is but one small part of a larger context that often includes scope of inference, defining parameter(s), stating hypotheses, interpreting plot(s) of the data, calculating the statistic, interpreting the p-value or interval in context, and making relevant conclusions.  The assessment of this content can be largely independent of whether SBI is used.

In lieu of technology, give pictures of randomization and bootstrap distributions. Eyeballing an interval or p-value from a picture of a bootstrap or randomization distribution can be difficult for students, difficult to grade, and an irrelevant skill to assess.  Here are several alternative approaches to get from a picture and observed statistic to a p-value or interval without technology:

[pullquote]Choose examples with obviously small or not small p-values.[/pullquote]

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Getting Students Excited about Statistics

Kari Lock Morgan- Penn State University

Simulation-based methods, with minimal background knowledge required, give you the option of introducing inference on the first day of class.  This is fantastic, and enabling the course to start inference earlier is one of the big advantages of simulation methods, but it’s also completely fine to NOT jump into inference on the first day of class if you don’t want to!   [pullquote]I believe the key to getting students excited about statistics is to focus on REAL DATA[/pullquote]My approach, and more generally the Lock5 approach, is to start the class simply by talking about data. Continue reading