MS 150 Statistics fall 2008 assessment

Performance in MS 150 Statistics is measured by quizzes and tests throughout the term. A comprehensive final examination consisting of fifty-one fill-in-the-blank questions was administered. The fall 2008 final was comparable to the spring 2008 final, permitting a term-on-term comparison of performance levels.

OutnumStudents will be able to: Sp 08Fa 08Delta
1Identify levels of measurement and appropriate statistical measures for a given level78%82%4%
2Determine frequencies, relative frequencies, creating histograms and identifying their shape visually83%84%1%
3Calculate basic statistical measures of the middle, spread, and relative standing90%80%-10%
4Perform linear regressions finding the slope, intercept, and correlation; generate predicted values based on the regression80%79%-1%
5Calculate simple probabilities for equally likely outcomesN/AN/AN/A
6Determine the mean of a distributionN/AN/AN/A
7Calculate probabilities using the normal distributionN/AN/AN/A
8Calculate the standard error of the mean84%84%1%
9Find confidence intervals for the mean66%85%19%
10Perform hypothesis tests against a known population mean using both confidence intervals and formal hypothesis testing36%56%20%
11Perform t-tests for paired and independent samples using both confidence intervals and p-values55%63%8%
12Go beyond outline33%
PSLOdefine mathematical concepts, calculate quantities, estimate solutions, solve problems, represent and interpret mathematical information graphically, and communicate mathematical thoughts and ideas. 72%76%4%

Sp 08 refers to performance on the spring 2008 final examination. Fa 08 refers to performance on the fall 2008 final examination. Performance marked N/A indicates that the material was not directly performed on the final examination. Material in those sections was tested during the term and is foundation material to that tested in later chapters.

Overall performance levels remained stable, fairly typical for a mature course that is in its eighth year and eighteenth running.

The final five questions on the final examination are from material beyond the outline. The students are unaware that this material will appear, the material is not covered in the textbook, and the material is deleted from the posted finals that students use to study for the examination. This material is a complete surprise to the students. The point of this material is noted on the final examination itself, "One intention of any course is that a student should be able to learn and employ new concepts in the field even after the course is over."

The 33% success rate of students on this material is actually very encouraging. Faced with material that they have never seen before and lacking any support material other than the information on the examination, students were able to synthesis their acquired learning and apply it in a new statistical situation.

Making inferences

Students show strength in the ability to make basic calculations. The success rate on basic statistics was 80%, with an 84% success rate on making a histogram. Even the moderately complex operation of calculating a confidence interval enjoyed an 80% success rate. Drawing conclusions from the data, making inferences and correct interpretations of the results, had only a 56% success rate. The low performance on inferences has existed in previous terms, but as success rates on basic calculations have improved, the lower performance on inferences becomes increasingly apparent. Underneath the lower success rate is a lack of understanding as to the "meanings" behind the numbers. Improving student ability to make inferences is an area in which the course can improve.


For a second term in a row students were asked to engage in putting together a basic statistical research project. The number of projects completed improved with the addition of an earlier (fourth week of class) initial commitment to a project idea. Writing on the projects also showed improvement, but this was not specifically analyzed this term.