Electronic Proceedings of the Seventh Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics

Orlando, Florida, November 17-20, 1994

Paper C011

Using MINITAB to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills

Cathleen M. Zucco

Department of Mathematics
Le Moyne College
Syracuse, NY 13214-1399
Phone: (315) 445-4149
Fax: (315) 445-4540

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Too often in introductory college statistical courses, standard statistical software is just used on a superficial level to analyze data. A wonderful opportunity is lost to develop students' critical thinking skills. This paper will explore how, in an introductory college statistical course, these skills can be enhanced in the MINITAB environment.

The essence to strengthening students' critical thinking skills is learning to ask students the proper questions. For example in a descriptive statistics unit, directing students to use MINITAB to find the mean and the median of a given data set is not sufficient enough. If the given data set is asymmetric, then interpretive questions as the following should be asked: 'Find the appropriate measure of central tendency. Explain why this measure is preferred.' In addition, explorative questions should be asked such as: 'Can any alterations be implemented on this data set in order to insure that both the mean and median are representative of this data set ? If so, execute these changes and compare these results with the original results, explaining any differences.'

This paper will survey several different units in an introductory college statistical course and discuss the appropriate questions that should be asked of students when they analyze MINITAB computer output. The units that will be examined are: descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, ANOVA, regression and nonparametric statistics.

Keyword(s): Minitab, statistics