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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Statistical Home Page

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

3.67 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 3 stars
Reviewed: Feb 08, 2002 by Mathematics
Overview: This website augments two textbooks, Fundamental Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences and Statistical Methods for Psychology. Without the textbook, the user will find interesting examples and papers that may be used for discussion or in developing projects for a general elementary statistics course.
Learning Goals: Provides supplementary in-depth discussion of the application of statistics in the area of psychology and behavioral science. Uses laboratory assignments to extend the use of statistics beyond the calculation of trivial examples, describing in detail the research, results, and analysis of those results.
Target Student Population: Elementary statistics or psychology students or both.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Knowledge of statistics. Knowledge of SAS and SPSS would be helpful.
Type of Material: Lecture/discussion, lab assignments.
Technical Requirements: Should work on any platform.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The link to Examples and Their Data Sets revisits various published studies, describing in detail the background, methods, results, and statistical analysis using formulas and algebraic calculations, as well as computer software, to obtain results. The discussion is detailed and informative without overwhelming the reader with terminology. Supporting data sets are available. Under Additional Material, the papers Confounding Effects with Unequal Sample Sizes and How to Handle Missing Data provide interesting discussion with documentation of various approaches and their resulting conclusions. Lecture and Lab things provides thought provoking lab examples that show how the underlying mathematics influences decisions based on statistics. Randomization and Bootstrapping gives a conversational introduction to these methods and a good feel for why one may want to use these methods (violation of underlying hypotheses such as normality, etc.).
Concerns: The first link is to data files that are dependent on the textbook and meaningless without further explanation. The user must look further to find excellent material that can be adapted for a lecture or assignment. In ?Randomization Test on Two Independent Samples (hurry up, fella)?, the author takes care to talk about the appropriateness of the analysis used. It would be nice to talk in somewhat more depth about the quality of the incoming data, too. Measuring times it takes to leave a parking space using visual cues and a stopwatch gives data accurate to the half second at best. That means the reporting of hundredths of a second in the data set is not realistic. (The author makes a jocular remark to this effect, but some further discussion may deter students from reporting 10 digits for data that has, say, a 20% error.)

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The materials vary in their format and uses. The description of various published studies are complete with background, research methods, data, and analysis using mathematical formulas and computer software. Some of these appear to have been converted from lab assignments and could be reformatted as such. Some lab assignments are mainly groups of thought-provoking questions; one has links to the correct answers and could be used as a tutorial. The topics are of interest, and not usually available in a standard mathematics text: posttraumatic stress, athletic performance in optimists versus pessimists, testosterone and antisocial behavior, religious fundamentalism. The background information given on the studies gives the feeling that the data is not contrived. Supporting programs in SPSS may be downloaded.
Concerns: None.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The user will find all links to materials in Examples and Their Data Sets are included in Lecture and Lab Ideas where they are organized by topic and chapter.
Concerns: The graphics in the Randomization and Bootstrap Procedures are not supported in Netscape or Internet Explorer. This component, therefore, cannot be used as intended.The link to computer program under Sampling Distributions is broken.The link to Statistical Bookmarks under Web Searches is broken.Some topics are under construction; material for chapters 12 through 18 is not available.An independent project is hiding under a link in Lecture and Lab Ideas and could be made more visible.