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Excel for AP Statistics (fwd)
Posted:
Jan 31, 1996 9:45 PM


> > 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 EdStatL 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 postTukey. The stats. capabilities of Excel are definitely preTukey. 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 EdStatL gave indications that spreadsheets are equally out of touch with the developments during the last 3040 years in statisitcal computing, so that wrong answers or problems with roundoff 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 /  Plymouth State College   Plymouth, New Hampshire 03264 USA  *  Rural Route 1, Box 10 /  Ashland, NH 032179702  ) (603) 9689914 (home) L_____/ hayden@oz.plymouth.edu fax (603) 5352943 (work)



