Help:Semester Project

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1 Lesson Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Contribute as an active team member on a group research project
  • Develop a topic for an approvable group research project
  • Formulate a testable research question for the group research project
  • Design a simple experiment or observational study to address your group's research question
  • Create a written summary of the proposed data collection procedures for your group research project
  • Complete the human subjects training, if required, for the group project
  • Obtain approval to conduct your research project from the BYU-Idaho IRB, if required
  • Obtain approval to conduct your research project from your instructor

2 Project Introduction

Statistics is the science of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data in order to make informed decisions supported by evidence. It is much more than a collection of facts and methodologies. You will work with your group to complete a project. This provides you the opportunity to practice many aspects of the application of Statistics. For many students, the project solidifies their understanding of statistics as they see a start-to-finish application of the principles. The ideas discussed in the course are brought together into one experience.

As you complete the project, your team will apply the entire Statistical Process.

Step 1: Design the study
Step 2: Collect data
Step 3: Describe the data
Step 4: Make inferences
Step 5: Take action

The project will be submitted incrementally, following the five steps of the Statistical Process. We will begin with Step 1: Design the study.

3 Sample Projects

To give you an idea of what a project looks like, here are two projects completed by students in past semesters.

Dating Analysis

Flossing Analysis

4 Design the study


The Design the Study phase of the project includes: identify a topic, define a research question, decide what data you will need, plan what analysis you will do, and get the necessary project approvals. You are not expect to come to class with a completed design. These concepts will be discussed during class.

4.1 Identify a Topic

Be creative! Find a subject that is of interest to your group. Experience has shown that groups that choose an interesting subject have more fun, learn more, and get better grades. When groups select a subject about which they are interested, their projects tend to be of the highest quality. Your teacher can help you with project ideas. The topic of your project must be approved by your teacher.

4.2 Research Question

Closely related to your topic is the research question. The research question is the question you hope to answer as a result of doing your project. For example, the topic of the Flossing project was flossing habits of young adults. The research question was, "What is the relationship between gender and flossing habits of young adults?", which is reflected in the Null and Alternative Hypotheses. You should be as specific as you can when identifying the research question.

To help you get started with ideas for your project, here is a list of potential topics or research questions for your project.

  • Which is cheaper: Broulim’s or Wal-Mart (K-Mart or Wal-Mart) in Rexburg?
  • Go to a local grocery store and collect these data for several breakfast cereals: cereal name; grams of sugar per serving; and the price per ounce (or gram). Use these data to estimate the simple regression model with price as the dependent variable and sugar as the explanatory variable.
  • Is there a difference in the price of books at the BYU-Idaho Bookstore compared to those available online?
  • Is there a difference in the price of textbooks required by different colleges at BYU-Idaho?
  • Is the percentage of pink (or red or whatever) Starbursts greater than the others?
  • Is the distribution of colors between Plain and Peanut M&Ms equal?
  • Who is more likely to attend devotional: a man or a woman?
  • Among those who attend devotional, who is more likely to dress up, men or women?
  • Does one brand of popcorn have a higher popping ratio than another?
  • One brand of popcorn claims that there is a 40-to-1 popping ratio, or in other words that out of every 41 kernels, 40 will pop. Is this accurate?
  • Who returns their shopping cart more - men or women?
  • Who is most likely to use earbuds while walking around the BYU-Idaho campus, men or women?
  • Calculate the percentage change in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from the close on Thursday the 12th to the close on Friday the 13th for every Friday the 13th beginning in 1980. Is the average percentage change substantial? Test the null hypothesis that the mean percentage change is 0.
  • Estimate and compare the average words per sentence in the New York Times and in a local newspaper (Scroll).
  • Go to a local cemetery and compare the number and size of male and female tombstones.
  • The nine positions on a baseball team can be divided into four categories: pitcher, catcher, the four infielders, and the three outfielders. Collect all the data you can on major league baseball managers and test the null hypothesis that, among those managers who played baseball, the probabilities of having played in these four categories are 1/9, 1/9, 4/9, and 3/9, respectively.
  • Is there a difference in the asking price for a car of a particular model/year depending on whether it is sold by a dealer or a private seller?
  • Is there a difference in the number of pages in fiction titles in the library compared to the number of pages in nonfiction titles?
  • Is there a difference in the interest rates offered by banks versus credit unions?
  • Out of all births, is the proportion of males equal to 0.5?
  • Who’s more likely to return a shopping cart: a man or a woman?

4.3 Data Planning

At the heart of every project is data. Once you have a topic and a research question, discuss in your group what data you will need to answer your research question and how you will collect it. You should start collecting data as soon after your project is approved as possible because you may encounter unforeseen challenges. It is very difficult to anticipate everything when collecting data. Many good projects will do a small scale early data collection activity to gain experience. They will use lessons learned to improve their process for their main data collection activity.

4.4 Analysis

Once you have your data, you will do analysis to make inference. During the design the study phase of project planning, you should try to anticipate what analytical tools you will use. Even though there are many analytical tools you haven't learned about yet, discuss in your group how you can use your data to answer your research question.

4.5 Project Approval Process

Your teacher will indicate when your project has been approved. You should receive confirmation in writing that your project is approved. If you do not, please ask for this specifically.

If you are interested in surveying people, you need to follow all the applicable laws. In the United States, there are very specific and strict laws regarding research involving human subjects. Studies that involve human subjects require a formal University approval process. If human subjects are not involved, the approval process is more simple. Much more information will be provided regarding the project approval process. While selecting your topic, please be aware that if you want to do a project that involves human subjects there will be some extra work during the approval process.

Each project must receive final approval from your teacher before you start to collect data. Think of this as a protection, rather than a hoop.

Please note that some aspects of the final approval process can be time consuming. Do not procrastinate any part of the approval process. This will require the cooperation of the entire group. To help you complete this process smoothly, a checklist will be provided for you.

Following these steps with exactness, you will be guided through the approval process. This will legally protect you as you complete your research.