One Data Set, Multiple Uses: Adapting an Inferential Statistics Data Set to Illustrate Statistical Process Control


In this case, we discuss the adaptation and use of a data set originally generated from an inferential statistics experiment in a statistics course taught by the lead author, for illustrating statistical process control in an operations management course taught by the coauthor. Hypothesis testing and confidence intervals are statistical tools used to make inferences about a population based on a sample. Over a span of several years, multiple batches of students in a statistics course had conducted experiments using boxes of Centrella® brand “250 round toothpicks.” They had (a) tested whether the “claim” of 250 toothpicks was supported by the data and (b) constructed confidence intervals for the “unknown” average number of toothpicks as well as proportions of defectives, in the boxes. The repeated experiment using the same product had yielded, over time, 15 samples of varying sizes. After discussing with the coauthor, it was determined that this rich data set could be utilized to illustrate x-bar charts, R-charts, and c-charts—tools used in statistical process control—in an operations management course. The experiment was incorporated into the lesson plan to simulate a real-life scenario, to aid in student learning and retention. In this case, we discuss the adaptation and use of the original data set for the new purpose. We also discuss the lesson plan design, students’ experience conducting the exercise, as well as some practical lessons we have learned.

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