chapter  6
30 Pages

Beginning Inference—Supporting a Conclusion

Inference is a term that is usually associated with chapters near the end of introductory statistics texts where formal statistical tests are introduced with p-values to judge significance. At the end of secondary schooling some students meet z-tests, t-tests, chi-square tests, and correlation coefficients. These techniques are used to evaluate formally stated hypotheses and are based on quite a few underlying assumptions and complex calculating formulas. For students who have not been introduced to ideas of inference in less complex circumstances, the big picture is often lost in the procedural details, and arithmetical errors can result in absurd conclusions because there is no intuition about the story the data are telling. Although in this

circumstance teachers may encourage students to sketch graphs of data sets before rushing to calculate statistics, students are notoriously reluctant to follow such advice.2