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Student and tutor module reviews

Analysing data

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: M248
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this module and doing statistics in general. This module greatly builds on topics taught in 'Introducing statistics' (M140) such as Normal Distributions, Hypothesis testing and Regression just to name a few. It also introduces some new topics such as the Poisson process, non-parametric tests and basic calculus. Minitab is also used for some tutor-marked assignment (TMA) questions, just like in M140.

I found the practice quizzes, the tutorials, the TMAs, and especially the revision resources very helpful as preparation for the exam. The tutors were very supportive and the revision resources sum up the key topics very well.

I highly recommend studying this module for students who are interested in statistics.

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: July 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed the my Statistics module in the first year, so assumed that Analysing Data would be a natural choice for me in my second year.

However, the moment I started the course I was told that 100% of the final mark was the exam.

This is obviously problematic as having a coursework/exam balance like most other modules is essential at assessing both practical real-world applications of what youve learned (coursework) and knowlege retention (exam).

So this pretty much killed the entire module for me. All coursework had no insentive and if you are unlucky enough to be doing several modules at once you will find your final exam crammed right next to your other exams - making revision is hard.

I wouldnt recommend this module to anyone, especially if they struggle with exams (which is part of the reason why we are back att he OU in the first place).

The OU have failed to understand their students with this.

Simon Tompkins

Course starting: September 2019

Review posted: June 2020

Faculty response

Whilst the final mark for M248 is based on the exam, the coursework element is important and the module is structured in such a way that it is punctuated with assessment to help both consolidate your learning and give you experience in analysing data sets using statistical software.

There are 6 tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on M248 which are all formative and involve analysing data. The module team encourages students to engage fully with these TMAs and this is why at least 4 of the TMAs must be successfully completed in order to pass the module. The TMAs provide an opportunity for you to receive personal feedback on your understanding and learning, from your tutor, and enable you to have the experience of analysing data yourself.

In addition to the TMAs, there is a practice quiz associated with each unit of the module, each containing numerous questions to help you assess your understanding of the unit and provide a useful resource for revision. It is our experience that students who fully engage with the continuous assessment generally perform better in the exam and have in a better place to engage with study at OU level 3.

I was disappointed to discover that the module was a first presentation as there was no mention when I signed up for it. I would not have signed up for it if I had known as there were a large number of errata making it impossible to use online versions of the material as they haven't been corrected. A serious lack of revision material and disappointing quality of the screen casts compounded my displeasure but the worst was the poor quality of the handbook with no index and inconsistent with other ou modules in that not all blue box material was in the handbook, yet no annotation allowed. Only thanks to the m500 weekend that I got the grade I did.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: July 2019

Faculty response

We are sorry that you were unhappy with the first presentation of M248. The dates of new presentations are available on the mathematics and statistics study site and we will try to highlight when we have first presentations in the future. The errata have now been corrected and there is now more revision material available, including a set of dedicated recorded tutorials. Based on feedback, annotations are now allowed in the Handbook for 2019 onwards and, as the components of the module are updated, we will review your comments around the handbook and screencasts. Thank you for this feedback.

This course all comes together at the end. There is quite a lot of information and ideas in the module, sometimes interesting and sometimes a little hard work. I found that the final unit brings everything together and I began to understand the more practical applications of the material learnt throughout the year. This course will interest anyone who is interested in statistics and practical applications of data. I found the practice quizzes extremely useful.

Rob Collinson

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: August 2018

This was a fairly dry course, but more than possible to study alongside other modules, and score well in. The TMAs are structured well, and even with the change in the exam style, there is a large pool of resources available. Online and face-to-face tutorials were available, which really helped with the questioning. I would suggest making lots of notes of examples of which particular test you would use in different situations, as this tended to be the challenge before the maths was even begun! The tutors, and forums, were a good support, and although I now think statistics are not for me, I dont regret doing M248.

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: January 2017

This course is a very good course which provides detailed knowledge about data and probability. As I am in full time employment this course was very challenging and time consuming as I had to skip some bits and refer to them later. The learning point is don't miss a page just go through each step at a time and it will be easier than I thought. It is a very interesting course to learn about the mathematical world of probability distribution. No doubt maths is fascinating.

Afrinnigar Calik

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

By far, my most challenging module and very easy to let it slip out of your hands. It does not let up - so stay ahead! Some students studied other modules alongside M248 - I can't imagine.

The Module Description describes this 'an ideal introduction to statistics'. Save for the first chapter, this is NOT introductory learning. When I took this module, the new M140 Introducing Statistics module had not yet surfaced and M140 would seem to be the real introductory course, before getting in to M248.

Although very dry in the main, you explore some great techniques for dealing with many forms of data. The handbook, is a lifesaver for summarising the many formulae. The software, minitab and SU Stats also does a good job of sealing your understanding -and you get to play with several what-if scenarios.

The Review Unit (which I left, not surprisingly - for my revision stage) -was actually a refreshing change. It started to piece together Real Life with Theory. So, familiarise yourself with the Review book as you go.

Small letdowns were a few scrappy errors, which were eventually published on the errata - but only increased my nervousness.

In general, if you love the science of maths, you will like this module. For me, I was often challenging the material 'what does it really mean?' and 'in what circumstances could I use this in business?'.

I urge students to use the face-to-face refresher sessions and the elluminate sessions, if only to get your exam technique nailed. I am sure I would have failed the exam, without these.

Richard Johns

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: September 2013

An excellent introduction to statistics both in the theory and practical applications.

The textbooks are very easy to get on with and have plenty of activities to consolidate your knowledge. The computer software is also very user-friendly and the computer books do add some extra knowledge to that given in the core texts.

The assessments are challenging but in a good way. Having the TMA questions to hand while reading a chapter and then answering the relevant ones at the end of each chapter is beneficial, otherwise you can find yourself a bit swamped at the end of a block trying to complete the TMA. The iCMAs can be tricky and you need to read the questions carefully.

The exam was different to the ones I have previously taken in that while you are given an answer booklet there is space underneath each question for your answer (very much like the exams I did at school). Also definitely get some past papers, something I regret not doing, for practice.

Overall I'd definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in statistics. Very worthwhile.

Peter Patching

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

A wonderful course in the fundamental concepts of statistics but also a nice introduction to statistical thinking i.e. going beyond merely applying techniques, to looking at things you will encounter in your daily life, with a critical, statistical eye (these things are *everywhere*).

My maths background was the course replaced by MU123, and MST121. I did not cope well with MST121 so I did S151 (Maths for Science) alongside this course. I managed a distinction despite having what I consider weaker maths ability than the Entry section suggests.

So long as a) you are comfortable with, at most, half a page of algebra, with a couple of steps missing; b) you are prepared to spend 5 minutes trying to fill the intermediate algebraic steps by yourself (to help your understanding); and c) you accept that a few pieces of mathematics - that are not assessed - may be over your head, you should be quite capable.

I have been waiting to do this module since 2009 because I have a rabid interest in statistics gained from watching Mythbusters and Numb3rs (yay!). Since virtually all claims you will hear in your daily life that assert, "This is the way the world is" - from politics, to medicine, diet to environment - can benefit from statistical thinking and investigation, if such arguments are the least bit interesting to you, I think you will get something from this module.

My only criticisms are 1) some, but not many, of the explanations are a bit clunky and take several readings; and 2) I thought the sheer excitement that comes from the power of statistics to uncover the hidden patterns in e.g. seemingly random human behaviour, was not conveyed nearly as much as it could, or should have been.

May I recommend the clip on OpenLearn by Hans Rosling called The Joy of Stats to show what I mean.

A good course. Well done OU.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I really enjoyed this course and found it pretty easy. I'd covered a lot of the content in an A-level stats module. I also did M249 alongside which isn't a good idea, so by the time I reached some topics (like confidence intervals) I'd already struggled with them in M249 (which I found much harder).

The exam is a push to get completed in time, & I don't normally struggle with that. Get used to using the handbook early in the course so you're really familiar with it come the exam. As with all courses I advise the use of past papers in your revision.

Minitab was straightforward to use and used a lot in TMAs.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: July 2013

For me M248 was an interesting course and the workload was less intense than for MS221. There were plenty of fun formulas to sink my teeth into and the text books were well presented as is most often the case with O.U. courses. The tutors were adequate but I felt that the course lacked any stimulating references to the real world in any format other than in text and a couple of interesting dvds. The subject matter could have been more application based and less theory based: for me anyway! The exam for M248 was fair and with no major surprises unlike the MS221 2012 exam!

This subject area was more of a credit filler for me but there were occasions when it caught my interest enough to think that I could potentially work in this area: but then I moved on and I am now finishing M208, which I highly recommend: though it's a fairly tough 60 credits compared to some other Level 2 courses. All the very best to all!

Course starting: February 2012

Review posted: April 2013

Thoroughly enjoyable course.

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: September 2012

I really enjoyed this module. I found it wasn't too difficult as it was well laid out and there were some enjoyable topics along the way. A couple of surprises in the exam questions but overall I did well in it and was pleased with my result. I've now moved onto M249 which is equally enjoyable.

Kelly Robertson

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: March 2012

A truly excellent course! Before taking M248 Analysing data, I had a mix of knowledge and sketchy understanding of some of the material covered by this course.

The course materials assume little beyond knowledge MST121 in my opinion, and builds on a good foundation to study further. Overall the topics covered presenting data, probability, discrete and continuous and then the analysis there of. A lot of work is done on confidence intervals and hypothesis testing, with lots of exercise and computer activities.

I would say if data analysis is of genuine interest to you, then you will enjoy this course.

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: December 2011


Tutor reviews

We are pleased the students that reviewed this module found it excellent, enjoyable and "a rewarding step towards making use of some of the wealth of data that is increasingly available in every sphere of life".

We are also pleased that the majority of surveyed students were satisfied with the overall quality of the module. The module was revised in October 2011 which included the updating of software, introduction of interactive quizzes and iCMAs as well as a new exam paper format which we believe will bring further improvements to the students experience in this module.

M248 Module Chair

Review posted: November 2012

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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