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An Ok textbook for the MBA and business majors -- An instructor's perspective,
This review is from: Statistics, Data Analysis, and Decision Modeling (Paperback)
This book has two main parts on data analysis and decision modeling. Most one-semester courses on business statistics adopting this title put their emphasis on the material in the first part. The author uses Excel as the technology tool of choice and he kindly provides power point slides for all the lecture notes on his web page. The instructors can typically make these available to their students in order to help deliver lectures and also provide a summary for the class discussions. As a matter of fact back in the Spring of 2011 I was hired to teach a business statistics course for a group of MBA students at a small private college in central San Diego. We covered descriptive statistics, probability & random variables, sampling & estimation, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, forecasting, quality control, and ended with a glimpse of risk analysis and uncertainty. My background as a career math instructor made the hiring decision somewhat of a gamble on the part of the program managers, because the other two folks who usually alternated teaching this required course, were both female PhD economists and that was the background they were most comfortable with. I decided to adopt the course coordinator's main syllabus and employ her large 45% component of the total grade which was devoted to a 15-page research paper on multiple regression. To round up the grading I also gave two in-class exams, each one with the textbook and notes allowed, and factored in a small attendance component. The homework was suggested weekly and the solutions were posted online to Moodle, a free course management system provided by the school.
Frankly the topics were getting more interesting and it was a pity that we did not have time during the 10-week course to cover the last two topics: Queues, and Linear Optimization. The textbook also includes nice chapter summaries, case studies, and appendices which talk about additional statistics and decision analysis material. There is assumed a high level of maturity and background in critical thinking skills, since the book reads like a rather dense set of notes whose audience should be ready and willing to consult other sources for expanding on the requisite material. For instance the topic of ANOVA was burried in the chapter on testing hypothesis or the advanced forecasting models were given without too much heuristics or background motivation and more like ad hoc tools for deriving results. I would however not count this aspect as a big disadvantage because the purpose of the Evan's book is to give a run-down of several important business statistics topics without getting too deep into any one area. Based on my recommendation, several of our students started using the Schaum's Business Statistics outline and it came in a big help to them. One other comment is that the students should have the appropriate version of Excel installed together with its add-ins such as PHSTAT and Crystal Ball, and do the exercises using them. Substituting equivalent programs can be confusing because of the differences in set up, syntax, and results' report. Overall I give this textbook 4 stars until the time a new edition or a second author could elaborate and expand on the underlying math to insure the results presented are based on firm theoretical grounds. Also more worked-out examples throughout the text will be highly useful.
The good news about my class was, most of the students managed to tune into the course, learn some useful statistics topics, and pull off a respectable paper project to help pass at the end. There was one instance of a major cheating attempt by a student translating a paper from a foreign language and submitting it as his own, but our turn-it-in software somehow still managed to catch it. We actually used the 4th edition of the book. The 5th edition still has the same 14 chapters with identical titles but it includes improvements which I reflect in the following (taken from Pearson's page for the product): The text has been carefully revised to improve clarity and pedagogical features and incorporate new topics. Spreadsheet-based tools and applications are now compatible with Microsoft Excel 2010 which is used throughout this edition. Every chapter has been carefully revised to improve clarity. Many explanations of critical concepts have been enhanced using new business examples and data sets. The sequencing of several topics have been reorganized to improve their flow within the book. Excel, PHStat, and other software notes have been moved to chapter appendixes so as not to disrupt the flow of the text. "SkillBuilder" exercises, designed to provide experience with applying Excel, have been located in the text to facilitate immediate application of new concepts. Data used in many problems have been changed, and new problems have been added.