Stats Course: from calculator to spreadsheet: the beginning

I started giving the final for my Senior Stats class.  I broke the final into three parts, each to be taken on different days.  I have the time so why not spread it out, make the tests short and try to relieve test-taking stress.  The first and third parts are just the usual written test thing, no big deal. The second part is pure computer.  I handed out a couple sets of data and they had to find the statistics and compare the data with Google Sheets or Excel, whichever they feel the most comfortable with.  When done they share it with me. I handed out the data sets on a piece of paper and the students had to enter them by hand. I need a better way to do that. I have four different sets of data so I cannot just tell them to go look at a shared file to cut and paste.  I imagine I could send each student a data set to their email address. A bit of a pain. I need to figure this out a bit better. Not all the kids use their school email address but I guess I could require they know it. I would rather not have the kids typing in the data, too easy to make a typo and mess things up.

This is the first year I have really used computers to this extent.  I required the kids have access to a computer (I have loaners if needed and there are computers in the classroom).  I have done it in previous years with simple things and did more of a show and tell. This is the first year with confidence interval, ANOVA and so on on the computer and not on the TI calculator.

After a simple AAR (After Action Review, a military thing) I have some issues to figure out a bit better.  Getting data sets to the kids as I mentioned. Finding data sets to give to the kids. I know, there are a lot of sources for data sets out there but in most cases the data is in the wrong format for Google Sheets or the data is too massive for a high school class (or a high school Stats teacher). I need to do some more searching.  I want simple data sets with nice features that target the topic I am teaching. Or more simply said, I want pretty data that will not be difficult for beginners and will give the expected pretty graphs I want for them. Later I can give them ugly data to work on.

Transitioning from a traditional textbook stats course to a computer driven course is not trivial.  Problems that are a mess by hand methods become trivial with a spreadsheet. Deciding how much is lost by using a spreadsheet has to be considered.  Computing the mean by hand does not help understand the mean. Who would do a five set 100+ data point ANOVA by hand? No one. At least no one with a computer handy.  But between those extremes there are things that should be done by hand just to understand the foundations of the concept. Those are the things that I have to separate out.

A couple of the amazing things I learned this year, and which surprised me, is how little seniors know about spreadsheets and how much they do not want to know about spreadsheets.  I think it is going to be a shock to them when they find out how much their future employment is going to involve spreadsheets. Yikes.


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