Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fail at Math, Fail at Life?

Introduction: Every year roughly 4000 students take the math placement exam. All students are asked to bubble in their 9-digit student ID numbers. However, each year many hundreds of students fail to bubble in a 9-digit number. Is there a relationship between placement score and ability to bubble in one's ID number?

Methods: The spreadsheet was obtained with all of the ID data. The students were divided into two pools: those who entered a 9-digit ID number and those who did not. The hypothesis test for the difference in the mean of two populations, unpaired samples, was calculated to compare the math placement scores of these two groups of students.

Results: 3462 students entered a 9-digit number, and 608 students did not do so. Of the students who entered a 9-digit ID number, their mean score on the placement test was 4.2 with a standard deviation of 1.7. For the students who failed to enter a 9-digit ID number, their mean score on the placement test was 3.9 with a standard deviation of 1.7. Using the hypothesis test for the difference in the means of two populations, unpaired samples, we calculated a t value of 3.8 with infinitely many degrees of freedom. This exceeds the table value of t at the 0.0005 significance level.

Conclusion: Students who can't bubble in their ID numbers on a standardized test score lower on the math placement test than those who can.