# Statistical basics for Biology: p s, alphas, and measurement scales.

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1 334 Volume 25: Mini Workshops Statistical basics for Biology: p s, alphas, and measurement scales. Catherine Teare Ketter School of Marine Programs University of Georgia Athens Georgia (706) Catherine Teare Ketter received her B.S. and M.S. in Biology from the University of Alabama. She received her Ph.D. in research methodology and applied statistics in 1990 from the University of Alabama with an emphasis in the application of nonparametric multivariate techniques to biomedical and health behavioral data. Since 2000, Catherine has been responsible for developing the undergraduate marine sciences laboratory courses at the University of Georgia. During the summer Catherine teaches a nonscience major marine biology field course and a Marine Science for Teachers course. She holds a Master s level certificate in comprehensive science. Note: This is a summary of the original PowerPoint presentation made at the UNLV 2003 ABLE meeting. Reprinted From: Teare Ketter, C Statistical basics for biology: p s, alphas, and measurement scales.. Pages , in Tested studies for laboratory teaching, Volume 25 (M. A. O Donnell, Editor). Proceedings of the 25 th Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE), 414 pages. - Copyright policy: Although the laboratory exercises in ABLE proceedings volumes have been tested and due consideration has been given to safety, individuals performing these exercises must assume all responsibility for risk. The Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) disclaims any liability with regards to safety in connection with the use of the exercises in its proceedings volumes Catherine Teare Ketter Statistical basics for Biology: p s, alphas, and measurement scales. Purpose: To address common misconceptions regarding and errors in the use of statistical procedures by basic science students. Overview of presentation 1. Scales of measurement 2. Nonparametric and parametric techniques 3. Descriptive versus inferential statistics 4. Population parameters versus sample statistics 5. Type I and Type II error 6. Tests of inference and modeling 7. Data transformation Scientists have long been concerned with the observation and quantification of relationships between objects and processes in biotic and abiotic systems. There has been controversy in the assignment of Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) ~

2 Volume 25: Mini Workshops 335 numbers to objects, behavioral and physical. In practice, this assignment of numbers to objects should be applied in a systematic and meaningful way. Scales of Measurement Data Types On the theory of scales and measurement. Stevens, S.S Science. 103, Nominal Simplest level of measurement Discrete data which represent group membership to a category which does not have an underlying numerical value Data transformations which preserve group membership are acceptable Examples: ethnicity, color, pattern, soil type, media type, license plate numbers, football jersey numbers, etc. May also be dichotomous: present/absent, male/female, live/dead 2. Ordinal Next level of measurement From the word order Includes variables that can be ordered but for which there is no zero point and no exact numerical value Data transformations that preserve group membership and order are acceptable Often used for affective instruments which assess feelings or preferences Likert scale used in surveys strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, strongly disagree Distances between each ordered category are not necessarily the same Examples: shoe size, preference ranks (Thurstone rating scale) 3. Interval Includes group membership, order, and equal distance between points on the measurement scale Arbitrary zero point on measurement scale Data transformations which preserve group membership, rank-order, and interval equality are permissible Most common example of interval scale is temperature Celsius and Fahrenheit scales have arbitrary zero points, rank-order, an interval equality can convert from one scale to another Behavioral data semantic differential, composite subscale scores for intelligence, aptitude, creativity, etc. 4. Ratio Measurements in which group membership, rank-order, interval equality, and a true zero point are present Frequently encountered in the physical sciences Examples: acceleration (m/hr 2 or km/hr 2 ), velocity (m/hr or km/hr), density (mass/unit volume), and force (Newtons=kg m/s) Behavioral data does not produce ratio data o o Intelligence has no theoretical or observable zero point, for example. Only when a ratio of two known interval values on behavioral constructs is calculated are ratio level behavioral variables produced

3 336 Volume 25: Mini Workshops Permissible operations for ratio data include the multiplication by a positive constant Permissible transformations preserve group membership, rank-order, interval equality, and the existence of a zero point Summary of Measurement Scales (after S.S. Stevens, 1946) Scale Basic Empirical Operations Mathematical Group Structure Nominal Determination equality Permutation group x = f(x) f(x) means any one-to-one substitution Ordinal Interval Determination greater or lesser Determination of interval equality Isotonic group x = f(x) f(x) means any monotonic increasing function General linear group x = ax + b or differences Ratio Determination of equality Similarity of group of ratios x = ax Permissible Statistics Number of cases Mode Contingency correlation Median Percentile Ranks Rank-order Correlation Mean Standard Deviation Pearson product-moment Correlation Coefficient of Variation Table of Correlation Coefficients for Variables Measured with Different Scale Properties Adapted from Glass & Stanley (1970) Nominal Nominal with Underlying Normal Distribution Ordinal Nominal Nominal with Underlying Normal Distribution Ordinal Interval or Ratio phi * rank biserial point biserial * tetrachoric r rank biserial * * biserial Spearman s or Kendall s tau * Interval or Ratio point biserial biserial r * Pearson product moment correlation * No coefficient is specifically available.

4 Volume 25: Mini Workshops 337 Parametric versus nonparametric methods Nonparametric statistical methods Used with discrete, non-continuous data (nominal or ordinal variables) Used when the sample data are not normally distributed or when the underlying variable of interest is not normally distributed Parametric statistical methods Used with interval and ratio level data Used when the sample distribution is normally distributed Used when the variable of interest is normally distributed in the larger population from which the sample was taken Descriptive versus inferential statistics Descriptive statistics Operations performed on data which constitute a sample from some larger population Describe the properties of the sample population only Results are not generalizable to the larger population Limited sample size, restriction in range for the variable of interest in the sample, other factors limit the generalizability of study results Inferential statistics Operations performed sample data extracted from a larger parent population Sample statistics relate directly to the larger parent population from which the sample was taken Purpose of inferential statistical procedures is to evaluate hypotheses relating to a sample and generalize these relationships to the larger parent population Population parameters versus sample statistics scribed by a set of numerical measures called parameters Population mean, µ Population variance, σ Sample: A subset of measurements taken from a population The distribution of the parameter/variable in the sample should approximate the distribution of the parameter in the population problems: restriction of range Increasing sample size increases precision of the sample estimates of population parameters Sample mean, C (x-bar) Sample variance, s

5 338 Volume 25: Mini Workshops Type I and Type II error A type I error occurs when the null hypothesis is accepted when it is true. The probability of type I error is α. A type II error occurs when the null hypothesis is accepted when it is false. The probability of a type II error is β. For a given sample size, α and β are inversely related. As α increases, β decreases. A priori error rate that is acceptable for a test of hypothesis is α. α is usually set as 0.05 or 0.01 depending upon the purpose of the analyses. Decision Null Hypothesis False True Reject H 0 Correct Type I error Fail to reject H 0 Type II error Correct Distinction between p and α p is the probability associated with the acceptance of the null hypothesis, H 0, when it is true. Prior to a test of hypothesis, the researcher needs to set an a priori α, error rate. The probability associated with the calculated value of the test statistic is p. The level of statistical significance is determined by α, a test of hypothesis is significant if p α. Calculated values of the test statistic may have greater or lesser-associated probabilities, but it is not correct to say that one is more significant than another! Inferences and modeling The purpose of inferential statistical procedures is to evaluate hypotheses relating to a sample, and generalize these relationships to the larger parent population. Modeling generates an equation that can be used to predict future events using data collected over time. Modeling usually involves some type of regression analysis (can be linear, quadratic, polynomial, logistic, etc). Data transformation Data transformation is useful if: Data are not normally distributed Modeling Results of data analysis using transformed sample data are generalizable only to the population of transformed data. Transformation is NOT useful in the purpose of the analysis is to make inferences from the sample to the population from which the sample was derived.

6 Volume 25: Mini Workshops 339 Summary Four levels of measurement: nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio Nonparametric statistical methods are used with nominal and ordinal data. Parametric statistical methods are used with interval and ratio data. Descriptive statistics produce results that describe the properties of the sample population only. Descriptive statistics cannot be used to make inferences about the larger population from which the sample was drawn. Descriptive statistics are appropriate when sampling is not random (restriction in range) or the underlying variable of interest is not normally distributed. The purpose of inferential statistical procedures is to evaluate hypotheses relating to a sample and to generalize these relationships to the larger parent population. A type I error occurs when the null hypothesis is accepted when it is true. The probability of type I error is α. A type II error occurs when the null hypothesis is accepted when it is false. The probability of a type II error is β. The level of statistical significance is determined by α, a test of hypothesis is significant if p α. Calculated values of the test statistic may have greater or lesser-associated probabilities, but it is not correct to say that one is more significant than another! Don t transform non-normally distributed data unless you are using a modeling technique if the purpose of the analyses is inferential, use the appropriate nonparametric technique! Take home message Take the time to talk with your class about measurement levels. The lowest level of measurement in your data set dictates the types of procedures you can employ in data analysis. Make a distinction between p and α. Statistics are a very useful tool but should not substitute for good experimental design. Design should dictate the analyses used. Have fun!

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