The amount, complexity and provenance of data have dramatically increased
in the past five years. Visualization of observed and simulated data is
a critical component of any social, environmental, biomedical or scientific
quest. Dynamic, exploratory and interactive visualization of multivariate
data, without preprocessing by dimensionality reduction, remains a nearly
insurmountable challenge. The Statistics Online Computational Resource
(www.SOCR.ucla.edu) provides portable online aids for probability and
statistics education, technology-based instruction and statistical computing.
We have developed a new Java-based infrastructure, SOCR Motion Charts,
for discovery-based exploratory analysis of multivariate data. This interactive
data visualization tool enables the visualization of high-dimensional
longitudinal data. SOCR Motion Charts allows mapping of ordinal,
nominal and quantitative variables onto time, 2D axes, size, colors, glyphs
and appearance characteristics, which facilitates the interactive display
of multidimensional data. We validated this new visualization paradigm
using several publicly available multivariate datasets including Ice-Thickness,
Housing Prices, Consumer Price Index, and California Ozone Data. SOCR
Motion Charts is designed using object-oriented programming, implemented
as a Java Web-applet and is available to the entire community on the web
at www.socr.ucla.edu/SOCR_MotionCharts. It can be used as an instructional
tool for rendering and interrogating high-dimensional data in the classroom,
as well as a research tool for exploratory data analysis.
Key Words: Statistics education; Exploratory data analysis;
Motion-charts; SOCR; Java; Applets; Activity.
The need for universities to achieve excellence in the services they provide has been the subject of
research for several decades. The idea of involving students and recognizing the importance of their
opinions has led to the creation of various models and tools. This paper focuses on teaching, a central
service from which improvement actions of an academic institution should always begin. The article reviews
and updates the previously developed Teaching Experiments and Student Feedback methodology. The methodology,
which is primarily addressed to statistics teachers, allows practical aspects to be organized and decisions to
be made based on data that has been collected from students and scientifically analyzed.
The steps for building a student satisfaction index are also described. This index, in its most complete version,
takes into account possible correlations between importance of the evaluated aspect and scores, both of which are
provided by the students. The paper presents an application of the methodology to a statistics course taught by one
of the authors.
Key Words: Course quality evaluation; Teaching experiments; Student satisfaction index;
Measuring improvement in education; SERVQUAL.
Novice problem solvers often fail to recognize structural similarities between problems they know
and a new problem because they are more concerned with the surface features rather than the structural
features of the problem. The surface features are the story line of the problem whereas the structural
features involve the relationships between objects in the problem. We used an online technology to
investigate whether students' self-explanations and reception of feedback influenced recognition of
similarities between surface features and structural features of statistical problems. On average students
in our experimental group gave 12 comments in the form of self-explanation and peer feedback. Students in
this Feedback group showed statistically significantly higher problem scores over the No-Feedback group;
however, the mean self-efficacy scores were lower for both groups after the problem solving experiment.
The incongruence in problem scores with self-efficacy scores was attributed to students over-rating of
their abilities prior to actually performing the tasks. This process of calibration was identified as an
explanation for the statistically significant positive correlation between problem solving scores and post
self efficacy scores for the Feedback group (p<.01).
Key Words: Statistics problem solving; Self-efficacy; Self-explanation; On-line technology;
Feedback; Pattern recognition.
We compare the effectiveness of academic service learning to that of
case studies in an undergraduate introductory business statistics course.
Students in six sections of the course were assigned either an academic
service learning project (ASL) or business case studies (CS). We examine
two learning outcomes: students' performance on the final exam and their
perceptions of the relevance of statistics for their professional development.
We find no statistically significant difference between ASL and CS students
with regard to final examination performance, but students who participated
in the ASL project as opposed to CS were less likely to agree that "[they]
will have no application for statistics in [their] profession[s]." The
estimated relationship is both large and statistically significant (p
Key Words:Business statistics; Experiential learning; Community; Attitudes.
Statistics education has become an increasingly important component of the mathematics education of today.s citizens.
In part to address the call for a more statistically literate citizenship, The Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in
Statistics Education (GAISE) were developed in 2005 by the American Statistical Association. These guidelines provide a
framework for statistics education towards the end of enabling students to achieve statistical literacy, both for their
personal lives and in their careers. In order to achieve statistical literacy by adulthood, statistics education must begin
at the elementary school level. However, many elementary school teachers have not had the opportunity to become statistically
literate themselves. In addition, they are not equipped pedagogically to provide effective instruction in statistics. This
article will discuss statistical concepts that have been identified as necessary for statistical literacy and describe how an
undergraduate course in Probability and Statistics for pre-service elementary and middle school teachers was revised and
implemented using the GAISE framework, in conjunction with the NCTM Standards for Data Analysis and Probability. The aims of
the revised course were to deepen pre-service elementary and middle school teachers. conceptual knowledge of statistics; to
provide them with opportunities to engage in, design, and implement pedagogical strategies for teaching statistics concepts to
children; and, to help them make connections between the statistical concepts they are learning and the statistical concepts
they will someday teach to elementary and middle school students.
Key Words: Pedagogical strategies; Preparation of teachers; Statistics education; Statistical literacy.
A course disk in either CD or DVD format can be very beneficial to online, hybrid, or distance
courses in statistics as well as traditional on-campus courses, augmenting existing technologies
like course management systems. A typical course disk may include the syllabus and course outline,
calendar, instructions, lecture notes and lecture outlines, handouts, assignments, interactive content
such as quizzes and surveys, software, statistical tables, example program files, program code, data files,
video lectures and tutorials, and pertinent website links. In most cases, a course disk would be used in
addition to traditional methods like course management systems rather than in place of these traditional
methods. Most of the benefits of a course disk are shared with course management systems like Blackboard or
Moodle; however, a course disk has the distinct advantages that it need not rely on internet access and it
provides access to course materials after a course has ended.
One course disk was developed and used in teaching a graduate-level introductory statistical methods
course in three different settings: distance learning off-campus condensed course, online course, and
traditional on-campus course. The course disk provided a variety of benefits across delivery formats as
well as benefits unique to each delivery format.
This article will (1) review relevant literature, (2) describe the course disk and compare its use to
other content delivery methods, (3) discuss the experiences and evaluation of using the course disk in three
different settings and how the students in each setting benefited from using the course disk, and (4) discuss
the necessary hardware and software and the process of making a course disk.
Key Words: Distance learning; Online education; Teaching introductory statistics.
The increasing popularity of R is leading to an increase in its use in undergraduate courses
at universities (R Development Core Team 2008). One of the strengths of R is the flexible
graphics provided in its base package. However, students often run up against its limitations,
or they find the amount of effort to create an interesting plot may be excessive. The
grid package (Murrell 2005) has a wealth of graphical tools which are more accessible to
such R users than many people may realize. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the
main features of this package and to provide some examples to illustrate how students can
have fun with this different form of plotting and to see that it can be used directly in the
visualization of data.
Key Words: Cave plot; Fire data; grob; gTree; gList; Viewport
From Research to Practice
Operating room (OR) management differs from clinical anesthesia in that statistical literacy is
needed daily to make good decisions. Two of the authors teach a course in operations research for surgical
services to anesthesiologists, anesthesia residents, OR nursing directors, hospital administration students,
and analysts to provide them with the knowledge to make evidence-based management decisions. Some of these
students do not remember enough of their basic statistics class(es) to understand the principles presented.
We performed a systematic, qualitative survey of previous experimental and quasi-experimental studies of the
impact of a computer on student learning of the basic statistical topics that form a prerequisite to the management
course. Computer-assisted instruction enhanced student learning of the basic statistical topics. We created slides
containing both hyperlinks to specific pages of Rice Universitys introductory-level free web-based Online Statistics Book
and OR management examples to provide context for the material. The website is effective at teaching the material because it
directs students to test their predictions, which has been shown to enhance learning. Once students have completed the
statistics review, they have sufficient background to learn the material in the OR management course. The students use an
interactive Excel spreadsheet dealing with OR management topics to provide additional computer-assisted instruction.
Key Words: Active learning; Statistics education; Math prerequisites; Operating theatre management;
Statistics instructors are increasingly using stand-alone applets to illustrate statistics
concepts to students. There are hundreds of applets available on the web, but locating a quality
applet to serve a particular purpose can be time consuming. This paper presents the STAT-ATTIC
(STATistics Applets for Teaching Topics in Introductory Courses) website, located at
http://sapphire.indstate.edu/~stat-attic/index.php, as a tool for locating statistics applets for a
particular pedagogical purpose. The site has links, with descriptions, to approximately 600 publicly
available applets on topics commonly taught in introductory courses, including graphical displays,
descriptive statistics, probability concepts, random variables, sampling, confidence intervals, hypothesis
tests, regression, ANOVA and chi-square tests. Within each broad topic, applets are organized by intended
purpose; for example, applets intended to illustrate properties or behavior are shown separately from those
that calculate statistics or perform tests. Advantages of the database over other statistics resources are
presented, along with the process that was used to identify and select applets for the site. Lastly, the
structure and functionality of the database, including the ability to search and rate or comment on applets,
are also discussed.
Key Words: Statistics Education; Computers; Technology.
We located 36 articles that have been published from January 2010 through September 2010 that
pertained to statistics education. In this column, we highlight a few of these articles that represent
a variety of different journals that include statistics education in their focus. We also provide
information about the journal and a link to their website so that abstracts of additional articles may
be accessed and viewed.
There are lots of new additions to share this month from CAUSEweb (www.causeweb.org) and
Data Sets and Stories
Baseball provides a rich context to learn statistical concepts, and one can learn much
about baseball players and teams though exploratory analyses. We describe three
readily available extensive baseball datasets that describe baseball at the season,
play-by-play, and pitch-by-pitch levels. We use R to illustrate some sample analyses
with these datasets and provide a list of possible explorations for the student. There
is a review of the literature and a description how these datasets can be used to
communicate statistical concepts.
Key Words: Batting; Density estimate; Lowess smoother; Pitching; Plate appearance;
Using historical data from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN)-Daily
database, the use of Markov chain models is presented to predict a Snow Day at eight
national weather stations. This serves as a variation of the classic Markov chain precipitation
example, predicting a significant snow depth tomorrow from todays snow depth
conditions. Stations near Seattle WA, Denver CO, Milwaukee WI, Chicago IL, New York
NY and Boston MA, were included as they represent major urban centers, while stations
in Montana and North Dakota were added to improve geographical coverage. Estimates
of the appropriate transition matrices (Pi) are provided, as well as a sample of code in the
R statistical programming language to enable construction of similar examples for other
Key Words: Precipitation, Snowfall, Transition Matrix, Weather Models, Forecasting.
This paper shows how to use data from the Ricci v. DeStefano
case in statistics courses. The Ricci v. DeStefano case was about
disparate impact of firefighters promotion exams in New Haven, Connecticut.
A statistical analysis of the test scores of both Lieutenant and Captain
exams indicates that there is significant difference between the average
test scores of minority and majority applicants. Analysis of the passing
rates and the rates of potential promotion to the Captain position, however,
does not show significant difference. This apparent contradictory result
shows students that in real situations, different ways of analyzing data
can lead to completely different conclusions. During the trial, the court
used the governments four-fifths rule or guideline to reach its decision.
The paper also presents a guided senior thesis project to assess the statistical
soundness of this four-fifths rule. The analysis reinforces a previous
study that showed that the four-fifths rule guideline was not appropriate
for the data in the Ricci case.
Key Words: Discrimination; Disparate impact; Legal case data; Ricci v. DeStefano; Guided