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Business case studies that teach statistics

JMP users may remember UC Denver Professor Marlene Smith for the lively discussion around the poster she presented at JMP Discovery Summit last year: Using JMP to Teach Business Statistics: Cases and Applications.

Now you can access 12 of her business case studies. Professor Smith includes a description of each business problem, a complete illustration of how to use JMP to analyze the problem, a summary of statistical insights gained through analysis, possible managerial implications and the JMP data tables.

The cases provide tools for analyzing and understanding:

  • Medical malpractice claim costs
  • Airline baggage complaints
  • Impact of sampling plans on incidence of manufacturing defects
  • Survey data about a summer film series
  • Price quote consistency
  • Impact of changes in treatment facility on patient and employee behavior
  • Impact of task prioritization on product delivery
  • Annual fund-raising contributions
  • Impact of direct mail campaigns
  • Forecasting market share
  • Factors impacting cell phone service performance
  • Conditions contributing to lost sales
  • I spoke with Professor Smith about her passion for using business case studies.

    Q: What are case studies?

    A: Case studies start with questions or problems that business decision-makers working in the business world – the world our students are entering – will have to solve. Cases include sample data that students can use to try to solve the problem. Notice I use plurals for the people doing the work – decision-makers, students. Case studies are often used by teams so that the students can bring their different skill sets to the table, share the work and be able to defend their results to the variety of people involved in work decisions.

    Q: Why use the case study approach?

    A: Statistics are very important for business, but let’s face it, stats can be dry and appear irrelevant to students wanting to make their mark in the business world. Case studies offer a two-pronged approach that helps students learn and appreciate statistics. First, I start with business problems that students will likely find in the workplace – problems that interest them and will require statistical analysis. Second, I give them the real data and tools to let them dive into hands-on analysis. The inquiry into statistics will follow – sort of "if you build it, they will come."

    Q: Do you use case studies in all your courses?

    A: I use them where appropriate to the course goals. They are particularly effective in my Introduction to Statistics course for MBAs. That course is offered on campus and online. The students can schedule face-to-face or online group time to collaborate.

    Q: Do you plan more case studies using JMP?

    A: I'm working with Mia Stephens, from the JMP team at SAS, to develop a few more on multiple regression and data mining.

    If you are interested in checking out a recent paper (August 2011) by Professor Smith published in The American Statistician, you can read the full text of Missteps in Multiple Regression Student Projects: Beyond Association-Not-Causation.

    More resources for learning JMP

    For more teaching tools, try out JMP Tutorials for Statistics 201: Introduction to Statistics prepared by the Department of Statistics, Operations and Management Science at the University of Tennessee and Florida State University statistics instructional videos on topics typically covered in Introductory Statistics courses. For more information, explore the JMP Academic area.

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    1 Comment

    Michael Anderson wrote:

    Wonderful stuff, just in time to be incorporated into my summer undergrad course in applied statistics. You and Dr Smith just prepared a course full of lab periods for me--thanks!