### Teaching applied statistics courses using computer laboratory final examinations

#### Abstract

Courses taught in Applied Statistics, such as regression or multivariate analysis, tend to have the examination component based on a final written paper, either with computer output attached for interpretation or with summary statistics given so the calculator can be used to evaluate test statistics and hence make inference, or a mixture of both. Assignments may be based on students using a statistical package to do the analysis. The authors found this approach unsatisfactory. The first author trialled at the University of Canberra in 2001 both a mid semester computer based examination and final computer based examination with the students being allowed to use a variety of statistical packages. Student feedback was so favourable that she taught the course the following year in the same manner as well as a regression course. When she moved to Macquarie University she split the final examination for the third year regression course she was in charge of in 2004, 2005 and 2006 into a computer laboratory examination and a separate written paper. We have been unable to find more than a small number of other examples of this approach, which seems to have considerable promise as a way of implementing authentic assessment in applied courses. As well as case studies, issues associated with setting, running and marking such examinations are discussed.