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General Card #409
Are You Above Average?
Updated: 6/14/2023 11:47 AM by Becky Benishek
Reviewed: 10/14/2022 2:27 PM by Becky Benishek
Use cell phone usage as a teachable moment for the application of statistical methods
Students have difficulty making the connection between probability distributions and how they can be used to represent actual data.  This activity is created to allow students to use their knowledge of sampling strategies to collect screen time data from cell phones for a specifically defined population and to use Minitab software to make predictions about the population. 

This activity is an opportunity to introduce students to several aspects of Minitab functionality.  The students must first use Minitab to determine how much data they require.  Once they acquire the data, they use the Graphical Summary in Minitab to review the data collected both graphically and numerically.  If the data cannot be assumed to be normally distributed, the students use Minitab to find a better fitting probability distribution.  Students then use the parameters of the proposed distribution to find the percentages of the population expected to fall in usage rate classifications such as less than 30 minutes per day or more than 3 hours per day.

As a final task, students estimate the cost of their cell phone usage considering the tuition they pay.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this activity, students can:

- Find sample sizes needed to estimate population parameters with a specified confidence interval width

- Apply the theory of sampling strategies to an actual data gathering situation

- Review data with both graphical and numerical summaries

- Find a suitable probability distribution that can be used to model the population behavior based on the information gathered from the sample

- Use probability models to predict population characteristics
Instructor Tips

Students are expected to understand sampling strategies for gathering data to represent the entire population. The strategies covered prior to this activity include simple random sampling, stratified sampling, cluster sampling, and systematic 1 in k sampling. 

Students are expected to specifically define the population of interest for the project before deciding on which sampling scheme to use.

This activity was used near the beginning of the term in a class on Engineering Statistics and Design of Experiments for 4th year Biomedical Engineering students and 2nd year Industrial Engineering students.  The activity was also used as a team building exercise since the class continued to use team based activities and project assignments.

The Minitab functionalities were introduced through demonstration. MP4 files that go through the steps needed to perform the analysis in Minitab were provided to all students to watch prior to starting the project.

Each team prepared a poster to share with the class at the end of the activity.  This gallery walk was beneficial to all the students as they were exposed to other solutions.  Comparing the different approaches to the same problem enabled students to think critically about the assumptions and methods they employed.

COVID modifications - Gathering data is difficult in light of COVID and restrictions for student interaction.  While COVID limitations are in place, I am providing a database with the screen times of previous students for sampling.  This takes away from the reinforcement regarding collecting a sample, but it does allow this activity to continue in light of COVID restrictions.

Instead of posters and Gallery Walks, I have the students create a summary of their work in Power Point.  Each team posts their presentation slides complete with speaker notes that detail the points they would have made during a gallery walk to the discussion section of our course management software.  Part of the individual grade deliverables is the number of team presentations reviewed and commented upon in the discussion section by each student.

On average, students rate this project on average 8.5 out of 10.

  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight
Creating Value
  • Persist through and learn from failure
  • Perform Technical Design
  • Analyze Solutions
  • Evaluate Tech Feasibility, Customer Value, Societal Benefits & Economic Viability
  • Communicate Solution in Economic Terms
  • Develop Partnerships & Build Team
Categories & Tags
  • Classroom & Courses
  • Mathematics
  • All Engineering Disciplines
These are the documents I have used for this activity
Title Type Ext Date Size Download All Downloads
Are You Above Average Activity Summary.docx Instructor Notes .docx 11/12/2019 19.6 KB 329
Are You Above Average Student Activity Instructions.docx Activity / Handout .docx 11/12/2019 16.2 KB 336
Individual Deliverables for Are You Above Average Module.docx Assessment / Rubric .docx 11/12/2019 16.7 KB 332
Team Deliverables for Are You Above Average Module.docx Assessment / Rubric .docx 11/12/2019 15.7 KB 342
Sample Size For Confidence Interval on Mean.mp4 Video .mp4 11/12/2019 9.7 MB 345
Graphical and Numerical Summary of Data.mp4 Video .mp4 11/12/2019 11 MB 331
Distribution Identification.mp4 Video .mp4 11/12/2019 15.7 MB 331
Probability Plots.mp4 Video .mp4 11/12/2019 8.6 MB 327
Probability Distribution Plots and Wrap Up.mp4 Video .mp4 11/12/2019 10.6 MB 335
The student presentation complete with speaker notes is presented
Title Type Ext Date Size Download All Downloads
AYAA Presentation Student Exemplar.pdf Student Artifact / Example .pdf 3/30/2021 399.2 KB 333