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Volume 12 (2004)

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An International Journal on the Teaching and Learning of Statistics

JSE Volume 12, Number 1 Abstracts

David P. Doane
Using Simulation to Teach Distributions

Many students doubt that statistical distributions are of practical value. Simulation makes it possible for students to tackle challenging, understandable projects that illustrate how distributions can be used to answer “what-if” questions of the type often posed by analysts. Course materials that have been developed over two years of classroom trials will be shared, including (1) overviews of distributions and simulation; (2) basic capabilities of @RISK software; (3) simulation spreadsheets suitable for analysis by teams; and (4) exercises to guide the teams. These revisable materials could also be used as in-class demonstrations. Concepts illustrated include expected value, k-tiles (e.g., quartiles), empirical distributions, distribution parameters, and the law of large numbers. For those who don't have @Risk, spreadsheets are provided which demonstrate elementary risk-modeling concepts using only Excel. All materials can be downloaded from .

Key Words: Computer-intensive methods; Decisions; Risk.

Carmen Batanero, Juan D. Godino, and Rafael Roa
Training Teachers to Teach Probability

In this paper we analyze the reasons why the teaching of probability is difficult for mathematics teachers, describe the contents needed in the didactical preparation of teachers to teach probability and analyze some examples of activities to carry out this training. These activities take into account the experience at the University of Granada, in courses directed to primary and secondary school teachers as well as in an optional course on Didactics of Statistics, which is included in the Major in Statistical Sciences and Techniques course since 1996. The aim is encouraging other colleagues to organize similar courses at their universities, either as part of their official programs or in their postgraduate training.

Key Words: Professional knowledge.

Joy Jordan
The Use of Orally Recorded Exam Feedback as a Supplement to Written Comments

While written comments are a popular and potentially effective method of student exam feedback, these comments are often overshadowed by students’ focus on their grades. In this paper I discuss the additional use of orally recorded exam feedback in introductory statistics classes of 40 or fewer students. While grading and writing comments on a student’s exam solution, I create a personalized sound file of detailed oral feedback for each question. The student can then securely access this file. The oral feedback in combination with written comments is more understandable for and motivating to the students, and accommodates a broader range of student learning styles. In support of this new feedback method, I provide and discuss classr oom data collected from my students. Furthermore, I make suggestions for the use of orally recording feedback when time and resources are scarce.

Key Words: Assessment; Feedback; Grading; Learning styles; Technology.

Fadia M. Nasser
Structural Model of the Effects of Cognitive and Affective Factors on the Achievement of Arabic-Speaking Pre-service Teachers in Introductory Statistics

This study examined the extent to which statistics and mathematics anxiety, attitudes toward mathematics and statistics, motivation and mathematical aptitude can explain the achievement of Arabic speaking pre-service teachers in introductory statistics. Complete data were collected from 162 pre-service teachers enrolled in an academic teacher-training program for elementary and middle schools in Israel. The data, except for the two achievement tests, were collected during statistics classes prior to the midterm examination. The majority (96%) of participants were female students with a mean age of 21. As regards variables examined in this study, only the hypothesized effect of mathematical aptitude on achievement in statistics was relatively large. The results also indicated that mathematical aptitude, mathematics anxiety, attitudes toward mathematics and statistics, and motivation, together accounted for 36% of the variance in achievement in introductory statistics for the current sample.

Key Words: Achievement; Affective variable; Attitude toward mathematics; Cognitive variable; Mathematical aptitude; Mathematics anxiety; Statistics anxiety.

John Maindonald and Alice M. Richardson
This Passionate Study - A Dialogue with Florence Nightingale

On her death in 1910, Florence Nightingale left a vast collection of reports, letters, notes and other written material. There are numerous publications that make use of this material, often highlighting Florence’s attitude to a particular issue. In this paper we gather a set of quotations and construct a dialogue with Florence Nightingale on the subject of statistics. Our dialogue draws attention to strong points of connection between Florence Nightingale’s use of statistics and modern evidence-based approaches to medicine and public health. We offer our dialogue as a memorable way to draw the attention of students to the key role of data-based evidence in medicine and in the conduct of public affairs.

Key Words: Evidence-based medicine; History of statistics; Statistics education.

Datasets and Stories

Thomas E. Bradstreet and Deborah L. Panebianco
An Oral Contraceptive Drug Interaction Study

This article focuses on a two treatment, two period, two treatment sequence crossover drug interaction study of a new drug and a standard oral contraceptive therapy. Both normal theory and distribution-free statistical analyses are provided along with a notable amount of graphical insight into the dataset. For one of the variables, the decision on the presence or absence of a drug interaction is reversed depending on whether the normal theory or the distribution-free analysis is favored. The data also contain statistically significant period effects, statistically significant but clinically unimportant treatment effects, some modest degree of structural nonnormality; and modest to more extreme outliers. This and 28 other pedagogically useful datasets can be found at

Key Words: Bioequivalence; Crossover; Graphics; Phase I Clinical Trial.

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