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Topic: Help with a school project, a statistical survey on education
Replies: 15   Last Post: Jul 13, 2013 4:14 PM

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Posts: 17
Registered: 4/25/06
Help with a school project, a statistical survey on education
Posted: Jul 20, 2007 10:55 AM
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The students of statistics in my high-school have to do a project. The
topic we have chosen is Educational Performance in Kolkata Schools and
Its Relation to Gender and Gender Interactions. I outline our goals

1)Collect data about Madhyamik results (a centralised exam organised
by the state education board to pass the 10th grade). We will sample
marks from all-boys schools, all-girls schools and co-educational
schools. We have selected the schools to be of similar average
educational performance. The average socio-economic condition of the
students is also approximately the same, hopefully eliminating that

2)We will examine various parameters of the marks, with emphasis on
the difference between the boys schools and the girls schools. These
include central tendencies, standard deviations, skewness etc. We will
also examine the myth that girls are relatively stronger at humanities
subjects while boys are stronger at science subjects. We may also
examine if the population is heterogeneous (that is, whether 'good
students' and 'bad students' form two distinctly distributed

3)We will then analyse the data obtained from the co-educational
schools and try to determine if the co-educational environment lessens
the difference between boys and girls.

Now, we are all grossly inexperienced and this is the first time we
will attempt a statistical study instead of working in out classrooms
with provided data. I'm eagerly seeking suggestions from experienced
persons about possible pitfalls and how to make our results
statistically meaningful.

I'm also looking for specific help on the following topics:

i)What is a suitable measure of whether girls are stronger at some
subjects while boys at other subjects? I'm thinking of comparing the
percentage of total marks obtained in one subject, standardised
against the whole population. For example, consider the variable X =
percentage of total marks earned in History+Geography. Next, we define
the standardised (wrt the entire population) variate corresponding to
X, let it be Z. Now we compute the mean of Z over the girls schools
([itex]E_1(Z)[/itex]) and the mean over the boys schools ([itex]E_2(Z)

If the first value is larger than the second value (it seems one will
have to be positive and the other negative), then we may say that
girls prefer humanities more over other subjects than boys. Next we
can do the same analysis on the boys vs girls population in coed
schools and see if the difference is less. By using the absolute marks
instead of expressing it as percentage of total marks, we can also
compare the relative performance (as opposed to preference) of boys
and girls in humanities. The same can be done for languages and
sciences. Is this a statistically sound measure (unlikely, since I
just made it up)? What are the alternatives?

ii) What is a good way of identifying whether the population in a
school indeed consists of discreet stratas? This could be good
students/bad students (there is indication from previous results that
this may be the case) or in coed schools boys/girls (very likely the
case). In case of coed schools, there may even be four stratas: good
boys, good girls, bad boys, bad girls. It will be interesting to study
whether bad boys vs girls show more difference than good boys vs
girls. All this sounds very pretty, but I don't know how to separate
the population into stratas.

iii)Is there some easily available (preferably free) software that
will let me do all this analysis (brownie points for fitting
probability distributions and graphing)? It would be a nightmare to do
this by hand since we usually work with less than 50 data points
instead of several hundred.

iv)As it stand right now, we will sample two boys schools, two girls
schools and one coed school. Is this enough to be statistically
significant? How many data points should we sample from each school?
Should this be a constant or proportional to the total number of

v)Finally, is the whole proposition so glaringly ridiculous that all
serious statisticians will simply laugh at it? I hope not :redface:

I hope you will help out. We have in all probability bitten off more
than we can chew. But we are hoping to do some meaningful work
publishable in a journal, so we need all the help we can get. I will
also be very grateful if you give me the email of someone who may be
able and willing to help. We will be marked for this in our school-
finishing (and career determining) central exams, so this is very
important to our whole class. Thanks a lot.


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