Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Assessing Statistical Significance DAY 1 - Section 3: Simulating Possible Results by Hand


How can we distinguish between an occurrence that is statistically significant and one that is merely a coincidence? Our coin toss experiment provides a good introduction to using a simulation to explore the difference. Students gather their simulation results (gathered from individual coin toss trials) and notice that while they are not all the same, they are mound shaped and symmetrical. How does my claim of a ‘special coin’ compare to the probabilities illustrated in our simulated trials? How much difference is significant? The basketball simulation takes this idea a step father. First, we run an experiment and record the result. Then we are tempted to jump to conclusions: “Yes, being distracted does have a negative impact on a student’s ability to score a free throw!” (connect this to: “I got 75/100 heads once, so my coin is special.”) Is it possible that this is a coincidence? Carrying the class through this scaffolded simulation process where distractions are randomized helps them to internalize both the process and the rationale for determining statistical significance.

  Using Simulations to Help Students Understand Significance
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Using Simulations to Help Students Understand Significance
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Assessing Statistical Significance DAY 1

Unit 6: Statistics: Single-Variable
Lesson 8 of 13

Objective: SWBAT randomize the results of an experiment in order to assess the statistical significance of these results.

Big Idea: We can use simulations to compare the results of an experiment to what might have happened by chance alone. Doing this allows us to assess the statistical significance of our results.

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