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Volume 5, Number 2 (July 1997) ISSN: 1069-1898

Karla Ballman, "Greater Emphasis on Variation in an Introductory Statistics Course" (25K)

Many introductory courses teach traditional probability concepts. The objectives of these courses may be better met by emphasizing characteristics of random variation rather than formal probability. To illustrate a different approach, some alternative concepts and related activities are described and discussed. --KB

Key Words: Characteristics of random variation; Probability; Statistics education.

Robert J. MacG. Dawson, "Turning the Tables: A t-Table for Today" (16K)

Despite advances in computer technology, quantiles of Student's t (among other distributions) are still calculated using printed tables in most classroom situations. Unfortunately, the structure of the tables found in textbooks (and even in books of tables) is usually better suited to fixed-level hypothesis testing than to the p-value approach that many modern statisticians favor. This article presents a novel arrangement of the table that allows p-values to be determined quite precisely from a table of manageable size. --RJMD

Key Words: p-values; Student's t distribution; Tabulated distribution.

Mrudulla Gnanadesikan, Richard L. Scheaffer, Ann E. Watkins, and Jeffrey A. Witmer, "An Activity-Based Statistics Course" (49K)

So that students can acquire a conceptual understanding of basic statistical concepts, the orientation of the introductory statistics course must change from a lecture-and-listen format to one that engages students in active learning. This is the premise underlying an effort of the authors to produce and use a collection of hands-on activities that illustrate the basic concepts of statistics covered in most introductory college courses. Such activities promote the teaching of statistics more as an experimental science and less as a traditional course in mathematics. An activity-based approach enhances learning by improving the students' attention, motivation, and understanding. This paper presents examples of the types of activities that work well in various classroom settings along with comments from colleagues and students on their effectiveness. --RLS

Key Words: Active learning; Data analysis; Experiment; Sample; Simulation.

Carl James Schwarz, "StatVillage: An On-Line, WWW-Accessible, Hypothetical City Based on Real Data for Use in an Introductory Class in Survey Sampling" (37K)

StatVillage is a hypothetical city based on real data that is suitable as a teaching aid for an introductory class in survey sampling. It uses a World Wide Web-based interface to allow the students to actively select sampling units; it then returns the corresponding data for further analysis. The underlying data are actual census records extracted from public use microdata files.

Key Words: Design of sample surveys; Instructional computing; Statistics education; Teaching statistics; World Wide Web material.

"Teaching Bits: A Resource for Teachers of Statistics" (35K)

This column features "bits" of information sampled from a variety of sources that may be of interest to teachers of statistics. Bob delMas abstracts information from the literature on teaching and learning statistics, while Bill Peterson summarizes articles from the news and other media that may be used with students to provoke discussions or serve as a basis for classroom activities or student projects. --JG

Norton Starr, "Nonrandom Risk: The 1970 Draft Lottery" (27K)

The 1970 draft lottery for birthdates is reviewed as an example of a government effort at randomization whose inadequacy can be exhibited by a wide variety of statistical approaches. Several methods of analyzing these data -- which were of life-and-death importance to those concerned -- are given explicitly and numerous others are cited. In addition, the corresponding data for 1971 and for 1972 are included, as are the alphabetic lottery data, which were used to select draftees by the first letters of their names. Questions for class discussion are provided. The article ends with a survey of primary and secondary sources in print. --NS

Key Words: Chi-square; Classroom exercise; Correlation; Exploratory data analysis; Randomness; Regression.

Editorial Board for Volume 5, Number 2

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