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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


StatCrunch

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Jan 30, 2007 by Statistics Editorial Board
Overview: This web-based package does a very complete range of statistical calculations designed to be user friendly. Formerly known as WebStat, it provides statistical calculation functions that would be done in most introductory statistics courses. Notable examples include being able to create histograms, pie charts and boxplots, calculation of summary statistics and confidence intervals, and performing hypothesis tests. It allows data to be entered in a spreadsheet style data window or opened from a file. Cost is $5 for 6 months and $8 for 12 months, and it does require a login. Key Word: Calculator.
Learning Goals: Using StatCrunch will allow students to interactively examine data.
Target Student Population: Students in introductory statistics classes.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: No particular prerequisites. However, it does not have explanations of the
meaning of the various statistical terms and techniques, but assumes that the
students know the name and meaning of the quantity they want to compute or the
graph they are preparing.
Type of Material: Data analysis software package.
Recommended Uses: This software can be used to conduct statistical analysis in laboratory settings
or out of class.
Technical Requirements: This software runs in a Java window on most platforms. It requires an internet
connection throughout its use. Some users may need to update their Java engine.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is an easy-to-use, well designed low cost statistics software package. It is
menu driven and provides a very wide range of analysis tools. It appears to
have correct computations and the presentations of results are in correct
language/symbols.
Concerns: The software is limited only to the most widely used topics in introductory
statistics courses. It does not allow for writing of scripts or macros which
might be required for more advanced applications. Also missing from this
software are more advanced techniques that would be found in second courses in
statistics such as factorial ANOVA or logistic regression, although many of
these features are to appear in the 4.0 version.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This software can give students the ability to interactively work with data.
Its web based nature can eliminate the need for installation of additional
software, which often leads to a large number of issues and additional costs.

Also available in this software are many popular data sets. Instructors can
quickly develop assignments based on these data sets.
Concerns: The primary drawback as a teaching tool is that it doesn't provide some features
that help students see conceptual ties. For example, several commercial
packages use animation to help students understand what is
happening during a simulation.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This program is menu driven and ready to use "right out of the box." Students
can be sent to the site with minimal instructions.


Concerns: As with all Java based programs there are questions of appropriate version of
Java plug-ins. A possible addition that may improve student usability might be
a FAQ page to help trouble shoot problems with Java. Instructors with very
large courses might also be concerned with overload of the StatCrunch servers
although it has recently moved to an upgraded server.