This is the program for the 2010 Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Abstract Details

Activity Number: 310
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 : 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract - #307005
Title: Framing Specific Hypotheses: What's the Alternative?
Author(s): Daniel Theodore Kaplan*+
Companies: Macalester College
Address: Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN, 55105,
Keywords: hypothesis testing ; alternative hypothesis ; sample size ; power ; introductory course

In introductory statistics courses, the role of the null hypothesis is central, but the alternative hypothesis is reduced to a bit part that informs a single decision: whether to do a one-sided or a two-sided test. This situation stems from historical debates of the first half of the last century and earlier. I argue that these debates have become obsolete and irrelevant and should no longer shape our curriculum. In place of the abstract, "anything but the null" alternative, I advocate adopting a specific alternative hypothesis that relates to the problem at hand and using it to guide decisions such as the selection of sample size. I give examples of several settings in which specific alternatives can be constructed in a natural way and show easy and intuitively accessible ways to compute power as a function of sample size.

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