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forwarded mail
Posted:
Aug 30, 1996 3:01 PM


 Forwarded message from BillRoloff@aol.com 
I understand now why Minitab is programmed that way, but it is frustrating when my little TI83 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 TI83. 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 TI83 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 TI83. It's just DIFFERENT, at least as far as ease of use is concerned. I'm much more accustomed to Minitab than the TI80/82/83 so I could answer Bill's question about Minitab off the top of my head but had to go thumb through the TI83 manual for 510 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 TI83 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 032179702  ) (603) 9689914 (home) L_____/ hayden@oz.plymouth.edu fax (603) 5352943 (work) 
_   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)



