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Bob Hayden

Posts: 2,384
Registered: 12/6/04
forwarded mail
Posted: Aug 30, 1996 3:01 PM
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----- Forwarded message from BillRoloff@aol.com -----

I understand now why Minitab is programmed that way, but it is
frustrating when my little TI-83 gave me what I was looking for with a lot
less effort.

----- End of forwarded message from BillRoloff@aol.com -----

Whatever you are used to is easiest! And you can't blame Minitab for
time spent barking up the wrong tree!-) Using the SET command and the
options for repeated values makes it just as easy to enter repetitive
data into Minitab as into the TI-83. You just press the parenthesis
key instead of one of the TI's keys. (Well, you have to type a closing
parenthesis for Minitab.) And after you are done, the data will be
stored in standard form, and available for ANY analysis you might
want, while on the 83 it is in a different form from the data in other
lists, which makes additional analysis more difficult.

However, my point is not to quarrel with Bill. I don't want to put
words in anyone's mouth, but I think it is fair to say that the
statisticians behind the AP Stats exam would MUCH prefer that students
work with a real stats package rather than a TI-83 or other
calculator. However, the reality of the situation is that many
schools do not have the software, hardware, or access needed for that,
while they do already have calculators, which are familiar to the
students and teachers. So, reality (and inertia) tend toward
calculator use. In that context, I want to fight the idea that
Minitab is somehow harder or less convenient to use than a TI-83.
It's just DIFFERENT, at least as far as ease of use is concerned. I'm
much more accustomed to Minitab than the TI-80/82/83 so I could answer
Bill's question about Minitab off the top of my head but had to go
thumb through the TI-83 manual for 5-10 minutes to figure out what he
was doing on the calculator.

While I was there I read some other sections. I came away with the
impression that Minitab's data entry setup is optimized for REAL DATA
while the 83 has all kinds of input options that are very convenient
for doing textbook problems that start you off with a summary of the
data rather than the data itself. That might SEEM like a feature at
first, but to my mind it just facilitates teaching the wrong kind of
statistics course. The students SHOULD be starting with data, not
with summaries, and they should be LOOKING AT THE DATA. If they don't
have it, they can't look at it.

As a particular example, I've noted over the years that in a standard
statistics cookbook the problems using the two sample t procedures for
independent samples always give just summary statistics because they
don't want to put students through all the work of computing the two
means and the two variances. Then, in the section on paired data, you
always get the data itself, and compute the differences yourself. The
TI-83 makes it easy to solve these canned problems by just entering
the summary statistics rather than raw data. What does this teach the
students? Simple -- if you have data, do a paired procedure, if you
have summary statistics, do an independent samples procedure, AND,
there is no need to look at the data. How are the students supposed
to determine if the two independent samples might have come from a
normally distributed population? The clear message of these books is
that you just don't ask. With modern technology, there is no need for
problems involving predigested data that inculcate bad habits in our
students. I have my doubts about technology that automates,
encourages, or facilitates these bad habits.

PS I don't mean to imply Bill Roloff was doing anything wrong.
Sometimes one does get summary information and the raw data is
unavailable and one has to cope. But it is important to see this as
an undesireable situation that should be avoided whenever possible,
e.g., we can ALWAYS avoid it in our own intro. courses.

| | 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)

| | 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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