Z-Tests: Should we even bother?

August 23, 2011

(This article was first published on OutLie..R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Should statistical teachers continue to teach z-tests?

vote:  save z-test, or stop z-test

Looking at textbooks, articles and general research I cannot remember the last time I saw someone use a z-test in a study. I have seen many a t-test, ANOVA, chi^2, and others, but rarely a z-test.

The z-test has the burden of needing the population mean and population standard deviation. In the world of statistics getting a true population is like finding the holy grail, the stuff legends are made of, like the perfect dataset.

I have some arguments for and against teaching z-test, please add your comments and arguments for or against, or vote to save z-test, or stop z-test

Save the Z-Test
This is how it has been done for decades, why change a good thing
When there is a dataset with a population, a z-test is the best tool
Get to look up cool numbers in an appendix of your favorite stats book (ah memories)
Z-tests are a stepping stone to t-tests and hypothesis testing, foundational to the rest of statistics
Great problems for textbooks

Stop the Z-Test
This is how it has been done for decades, it is due for a change
How often does a researcher ever really get a true population?
Computer should be able to do all of the looking up
Z-test can be skipped moving straight to t-tests
When was the last time you actually did a z-test with a real dataset?

Please add additional arguments or just vote to save z-test, or stop z-test it. A tally will be added up and presented next week.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: OutLie..R.

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