Math 113 - Textbook Price Project

This is a semester long project involving many of the aspects of Statistics. It can also serve as an example for the project that students will have to perform.

The class will be divided into groups of 2-3 students each. Each group will be assigned one bookstore.

Periodically, information will be turned in for a grade. All assignments submitted for a grade should have the name of the bookstore and the name of all the students in the group at the top of the document.

All information submitted to the instructor is to be printed or typed.

Parts of the project will be due at different times. Due dates and point values will be posted.

Phase 1 - Organization into Groups

This will take place very early in the semester. Either the first or second class period.

Exchange names, phone numbers, email addresses, and schedules with the other people in your group.

Phase 2 - Data Collection / Entry (20 points)

Take the list of textbooks that you are given and visit your bookstore and find the prices for those textbooks. Record both the new textbook and used textbook prices if available.

The data is to be entered into SPSS for later analysis by the class.

Phase 3 - Descriptive Statistics (20 points)

Each group should describe the data for their store only (apply a filter to the data).

Describe the following for the new, used, and best textbook prices

The output from SPSS should be cleaned up and annotated. After the entire group has checked the results, print and submit the report.

Phase 4 - Inferential Statistics (40 points)

The number in parentheses after each question is the section number the material covers.

Q1: Does the mean price of your store differ significantly from the mean of all the stores? (7.4)

Find the mean best textbook price for all stores. Then select your bookstore and compare the mean for your store to the mean of all bookstores.

Q2: Is the used textbook price for your store significantly cheaper than the new textbook price? (8.2)

Select just your bookstore and then compare the new and used textbook prices. Compare the prices for the entire store and for each group.

Q3: Is the mean price of your store significantly different from each of the other stores? (8.5)

If there are N bookstores, then there will be N-1 comparisons here. For example, if you are the Richland Bookstore group, then there will be comparisons between RCC-BigWords, RCC-Classbook, RCC-eCampus, RCC-eFollett, RCC-Textbooks, etc.

Compare the mean new, used, and best textbook prices for the entire store and each group.

Q4: Is there a significant difference in the mean prices of the stores? (11.2)

This will be the same report by all of the groups.

Compare the new, used, and best textbook prices for the entire store and each group.

If there are significant differences in the mean prices, which stores are different?

Which is the cheapest store? Which is the most expensive store?

Phase 5 - Project Evaluations (20 points)

Project (10 points)

As a group, comment on the entire project. Address questions like

Individual (10 points)

As an individual, evaluate each member of your group including yourself. Comment on how much they contributed to the group. Did they show up for all the meetings, did they participate when they showed up, did they pull their weight or did they not do anything.

In addition to a paragraph describing each person, assign them a score between 0 and 10 points for their effort in the group. Remember you are evaluating yourself, also.

* The score that you receive for this part of the project will be the mean scores given to you by each person in your group.

Summer 2000 Deadlines

Date Description
Tue, June 6 Groups assigned
Fri, June 16 Data collected and entered into SPSS (20 points)
Mon, July 3 Descriptive Statistics Due (20 points)
Mon, July 17 Inferential Statistics Questions 1-3 Due (30 points)
Tue, July 25 Inferential Statistics Question 4 Due (10 points)
Wed, July 26 Project Evaluations Due (20 points)


  1. College Bookstores of America - Richland Bookstore *
  2. -
  3. Barnes & Noble -
  4. Big Words - *
  5. - *
  6. eCampus - * (Jones)
  7. eFollett - *
  8. Fat Brain -
  9. - *
  10. Varsity Books -

* - bookstore carries used textbooks.

Links directly to the books are available for all stores except for eFolletts, which uses javascript, and the Richland Bookstore, which will require visitation. The instructor has already gathered and entered the data for eCampus.

Data Structure

The following variables will be collected for each book.

Entered data

Each textbook will be given an ID. We could base this off of ISBN, but that is more than 8 characters and SPSS won't do much with strings longer than 8 characters. By using an ID, we can compute other variables as needed.
Textbook store. Each store has been assigned a numeric value as shown in the table above. Enter the number for the store.
List price for the textbook.
New textbook price.
Used textbook price.

Computed data

The best price for the textbook - new or used.
Courses at Richland are classified according to the group requirement that they meet. The textbook ID will be used to compute the group requirement, you do not need to enter these as you enter the data. The different groups are listed below.
Group Requirements
1. Business
2. Communications
3. Humanities / Fine Arts
4. Mathematics
5. Natural / Life / Physical Sciences
6. Social Sciences

SPSS Notes

We will be using SPSS to do the statistical work with this project. SPSS is available in S137 and the outside machines C239. SPSS is commercially licensed software and you are not permitted to take a copy home, so plan on allowing some time at Richland to work on this project.

It is highly recommended that you go through the tutorial to become familiar with SPSS software.

You will open and save files from the academic file server. By doing this, the data and output that you create will be available anywhere in the College and not just on the machine where you work. You may wish to have a floppy disk to make a backup copy.

When you turn on machines, it will ask for a password for Microsoft Networking. This is so that you can get access to the file and print servers. The login is "guest" and the password is "richland".

The path that you will enter when you open or save files will be: \\acad2\stats\01\

Be sure to name the files you save as something distinct. Use your name or the name of your store.

There are two types of files that we will be working with. Data files have a .SAV extension and the output Viewer Documents have a .SPO extension. If you have trouble finding the file you're looking for, make sure the document type is set correctly.

If your print upstairs in C239, make sure you select the "Postcript" printer (the one with PS at the end of the name) or SPSS will crash. For this reason, as well as others, it is highly recommended that you save your files before printing.

When the instructions ask you to filter or select cases, go into Data / Select Cases. Choose IF, and then specify a condition like "store=1".

To generate output for each group requirement, use the Data / Split File command. Split the file by the "group" variable.