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Topic: Excel for AP Statistics (fwd)
Replies: 1   Last Post: Feb 1, 1996 9:23 AM

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Bob Hayden

Posts: 2,384
Registered: 12/6/04
Excel for AP Statistics (fwd)
Posted: Jan 31, 1996 9:45 PM
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> I have a question regarding software for AP Statistics. I have the list of
> suggested packages from the College Board, and instead of using one of
> those packages I'm wondering if Excel would suffice. It may be more
> economical for my school to use Excel and am wondering what the pros and
> cons would be.

I am just an interested bystander and I certainly do not speak for the
College Board or the test development committee.

There was a lengthy discussion of this question on EdStat-L recently.
Here is my opinion. Statistics was revolutionized in the 1960's by
the work of John Tukey and others. The AP Statistics course is
DEFINITELY post-Tukey. The stats. capabilities of Excel are
definitely pre-Tukey. If you just want to crunch numbers, it will do
it more or less, though you will have to write a LOT of code to get
the ANOVA table etc. that Minitab gives you with

regress 'y' vs. 1 ind. var. 'x'

to say nothing of residual plots and the like. I don't see "boxplots"
or "stem and leaf" in the index to my Excel 5 manual, and you
DEFINITELY do not want to code those yourself! It's not that those
two displays are so crucial, but their absence gives you an indication
of how many decades behind the times Excel is (3 or 4). In addition,
the EdStat-L gave indications that spreadsheets are equally out of
touch with the developments during the last 30-40 years in statisitcal
computing, so that wrong answers or problems with round-off errors are
a lot more likely than with any serious stats. package. A long list
of stats. functions is something you add to a spreadsheet as a
"feature". It's there to sell spreadsheets, not to do real work. To
put it in the context of high school mathematics -- using Excel to
teach an AP stats. course would be sort of like trying to implement
the NCTM Standards using an Algebra I text that was written in 1948 by
a plumber who had been on a school board.

If you are on PCs, there is a student version of NCSS (one of the
AP approved stats. packages) that runs under DOS and is free. You
can't get much more economical than that. I gave out many copies of
this at the AP stats. meeting in San Antonio last summer and it met
with general enthusiasm.

I do not have any financial interest in NCSS.

| | Robert W. Hayden
| | Department of Mathematics
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