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Volume 15 (2007)

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An International Journal on the Teaching and Learning of Statistics

JSE Volume 15, Number 3 Abstracts

KB Boomer, Neal Rogness, and Brian Jersky
Statistical Consulting Courses for Undergraduates: Fortune or Folly?

This article presents an overview of three undergraduate-level statistical consulting courses being taught at institutions of different size (small, medium, and large). Topics that will be discussed include the evolution of these courses, thoughts on what makes such courses successful, potential pitfalls to watch for, the necessary minimal skills students should have to be successful in the courses, and thoughts on where these courses should appear in a statistics curriculum. This paper will provide an overview of the similarities and differences in the way applied consulting courses are presented within the three undergraduate programs.

Keywords: undergraduate consulting; data-based applied courses; course development; pitfalls; minimum skills

Hillary Green
Grapharti: A New Visual Summary of Data

This paper refers to a graph called grapharti which I have developed. Grapharti is designed to organise and display large amounts of data obtained from surveys, opinion polls, course/teacher evaluations, sports and the stock market. The data are retrieved from a database and displayed on a web page. The purpose of this paper is to show that grapharti can encourage exploration of and facilitate insight into large amounts of data, and thus be used as a tool in statistical education. Users of grapharti are enticed to explore the data and this in turn results in reflection on the data. With the focus on the graph and the data, the user can visualise some statistical concepts in a new manner.

Keywords: dynamic graphs; use of colour in statistical graphics

Daniel R. Jeske, Scott M. Lesch and Hongjie Deng
The Merging of Statistics Education, Consulting and Research: A Case Study

It is shown how student participation in a real consulting project can be leveraged to achieve the dual goals of (i) developing statistical consulting skills in graduate students, and (ii) enhancing the instructional effectiveness of statistical methodology.  Achieving these goals is the primary mission of the Statistical Consulting Collaboratory at the University of California, Riverside.  The paper gives a detailed illustration of the how the goals were achieved by reporting on an interesting case study, with special emphasis given to describing the involvement of students and the alternative ways in which the project found its way into classrooms

Keywords: Statistical Consulting, Graduate Education, Bradley-Terry Model, Multiple Comparisons

David A. Rolls
Large Deviations: Advanced Probability for Undergrads

In the branch of probability called "large deviations," rates of convergence (e.g. of the sample mean) are considered. The theory makes use of the moment generating function. So, particularly for sums of independent and identically distributed random variables, the theory can be made accessible to senior undergraduates after a first course in stochastic processes. This paper describes a directed independent study in large deviations offered to a strong senior, providing a sample outline and discussion of resources. Learning points are also highlighted.

Keywords: convergence, Chernoff's Theorem, Cramer's Theorem, independent study, teaching, undergraduate statistics

David I. Warton
How Many Words Do You Know? An Integrated Assessment Task for Introductory Statistics Students

A novel assignment exercise is described, in which students use a dictionary to estimate the size of their vocabulary. This task was developed for an introductory statistics service course, although it can be modified for use in survey sampling courses. The exercise can be used to simultaneously assess a range of core statistics skills: sample size estimation, obtaining a simple random sample, estimating a sample proportion, measuring the sample error of this proportion, and similarly for a scalar multiple of a proportion. The outcome of this exercise involves the student discovering something about themself, which serves as a natural motivator and a tool for generating interest in the discipline of statistics.

Keywords: active learning, dictionary, higher education, lexical richness, service courses, vocabulary size

Datasets and Stories

Stephen C. Adolph
Is a Basketball Free-throw Sequence Nonrandom? A Group Exercise for Undergraduate Statistics Students

I describe a group exercise that I give to my undergraduate biostatistics class. The exercise involves analyzing a series of 200 consecutive basketball free-throw attempts to determine whether there is any evidence for sequential dependence in the probability of making a free-throw. The students are given the exercise before they have learned the appropriate statistical tests, so that they can come up with ideas on their own. Students spend a full class period working on the problem, with my guidance and hints. In the next class period, we discuss how each student group approached the problem. I then present several alternative ways to analyze the data, including a runs test and a contingency table analysis of transition frequencies.

Key Words: runs test, binomial, transition probabilities, contingency table, sequential independence, randomization

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