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Topic: Rossman review
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Bob Hayden

Posts: 2,384
Registered: 12/6/04
Rossman review
Posted: Apr 26, 1996 1:29 PM
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>
> Book Review...
>
>
> Workshop Statistics: Discovery with Data
> Allan Rossman, Dickinson College, Pennsylvania
> $25, 1995, 452pp., 0-387-94497-4,Jones and Bartlett, 800-832-0034,
> custserve@jbpub.com
>
> Over the past few years I have written articles and given conference
> presentations describing ways statistics courses should be redesigned
> to better facilitate student learning. I have encouraged the use of
> active learning strategies, problem solving using real data sets of
> interest to students, small group discussions, writing assignments,
> and appropriate technology. Allan Rossman's new introductory text,
> Statistics Workshop, appears to have incorporated all of these important
> components in a low-cost softcover textbook.
>
> This book is distinguished from other introductory textbooks in several
> important ways. There is a focus on "big ideas" rather than a large
> collection skills, definitions, explanations, and techniques. Instead
> of presenting students with methods of analyzing data and descriptions
> of concepts, Workshop Statistics is designed to provoke students to
> discover concepts themselves. When skills are presented it is because
> there is a reason to use them: to carry out the next step in solving
> a problem by analyzing data. Rossman explains that pages of expository
> material or solved examples are omitted to emphasize "the idea that
> students construct their own knowledge of statistical ideas as they
> work through the activities." While most textbooks contain problem
> sets at the end of the chapter, each focusing on a different (and
> often contrived) set of data, the homework activities in this text
> extend the types of activities conducted in class, examining a few
> real data sets in more detail. An emphasis on "writing to learn" is
> also embedded in the activities by continually asking students to
> write about different aspects of data analysis and to summarize what
> they have learned about a particular topic.
>
> Workshop Statistics is divided into six units, each consisting of three
> to five topics. Over 100 data sets are either generated by students or
> included in tables (soon to be available on a data disk). Students
> combine data explorations by hand with use of a computer or calculator
> to generate graphs and statistics.
>
> The first unit, Topic 1: "Exploring Data: Distributions," illustrates the
> hands-on data exploration approach. This unit is divided into five topics,
> each appropriate for one class session. On the first day of class students
> make predictions and gather data about themselves (gender, political views,
> opinions of statistics). They are guided through activities where they learn
> how to generate and analyze data to describe the number of states and
> countries they have visited. By the end of this first activity students
> have learned to distinguish different types of variables and data and how
> to construct and describe dotplots and histograms. In the next section
> students are asked to compare and examine dotplots, allowing ideas to
> emerge of center, spread, shape, and outliers as distinguishing features
> of these plots. Topics 3 and 4 introduce more details on measures of center
> and spread, and the fifth topic challenges students to integrate and use
> these techniques in comparing distributions.
>
> The next unit of the text explores relationship between two variables with
> topics on graphing bivariate data, correlation and regression, and tables of
> categorical data. Students are first shown scatterplots of data where they
> develop their own ideas of association between variables. Later they analyze
> data on space shuttle o-ring failures, peanut butter cost and quality, and
> cars' fuel efficiency. By examining and manipulating different scatterplots
> while viewing correlation coefficients, students construct ideas of how
> different factors influence the correlation between variables. In an
> activity comparing the average number of television sets per person and
> life expectancy for 22 countries, students discover that correlation does
> not imply causation.
>
> The third unit, "Randomness", is quite a departure from the typical chapter
> on probability in most introductory textbooks. Instead, this unit introduces
> sampling distributions and then focuses on the normal distribution and the
> central limit theorem. As Rossman explains in the introduction, there is no
> formal treatment of probability. Instead, ideas of probability are introduced
> in the context of simulation and random variation and as they apply to methods
> of statistical inference.
>
> Topic 4 introduces statistical inference first through confidence intervals
> for proportions and then through significance tests. Topic 5 includes
> important aspects of designing experiments and extends inference to
> comparisons of two proportions. In the last unit, Inference From Data:
> Measurements, student learn to make inferences involving one or two
> population means.
>
> This textbook not only looks exciting, it also works well with students.
> I know because I used an earlier version of Workshop Statistics in a
> class and have also observed Allan Rossman teaching a class at Dickinson
> College. Students typically work in pairs or groups on the data exploration
> activities after a whole-class orientation to the day's topic. While Allan
> teaches his class in a room equipped with Macintosh computers, allowing
> students to easily analyze data using Minitab, the format of the book
> allows students to use any type of computer or graphing calculator either
> during or outside of class. I have found students to enjoy the activities
> and appreciate the varied and interesting data sets. Although students
> initially resist writing long verbal descriptions, they eventually learn
> how to do this and appear to value the process.
>
> I encourage all statistics educators to seriously consider using this
> innovative text. I believe that it provides an exemplary instructional
> approach that should enable more students to overcome their fears about
> learning statistics and to become statistically literate.
>
> Reviewed by Joan Garfield
> University of Minnesota
> Minneapolis, Minnesota



--


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| | Robert W. Hayden
| | Department of Mathematics
/ | Plymouth State College
| | Plymouth, New Hampshire 03264 USA
| * | Rural Route 1, Box 10
/ | Ashland, NH 03217-9702
| ) (603) 968-9914 (home)
L_____/ hayden@oz.plymouth.edu
fax (603) 535-2943 (work)





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