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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: 215
Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Help with a school project, a statistical survey on education
Posted: Jul 20, 2007 11:14 AM
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On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 14:55:28 -0000, loom91 <> wrote:

>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.

You ask many thoughtful questions. Here's one point to think about.
You say "We have selected the schools to be of similar average
educational performance. " Doesn't this greatly reduce the chances of
finding differences in average performance of same-sex or co-ed
-Dick Startz

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