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Using the alternative hypothesis (, choose
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Sarah predicted that her teaching method (independent variable: teaching method), whereby she not only required her students to attend lectures, but also seminars, would have a positive effect (that is, increased) students' performance (dependent variable: exam marks). If an alternative hypothesis has a direction (and this is how you want to test it), the hypothesis is one-tailed. That is, it predicts direction of the effect. If the alternative hypothesis has stated that the effect was expected to be negative, this is also a one-tailed hypothesis.
The conditions for using this test statistic are that
In other words, we simply take out the word "positive", which implies the direction of our effect. In our example, making a two-tailed prediction may seem strange. After all, it would be logical to expect that "extra" tuition (going to seminar classes as well as lectures) would either have a positive effect on students' performance or no effect at all, but certainly not a negative effect. However, this is just our opinion (and hope) and certainly does not mean that we will get the effect we expect. Generally speaking, making a one-tail prediction (i.e., and testing for it this way) is frowned upon as it usually reflects the hope of a researcher rather than any certainty that it will happen. Notable exceptions to this rule are when there is only one possible way in which a change could occur. This can happen, for example, when biological activity/presence in measured. That is, a protein might be "dormant" and the stimulus you are using can only possibly "wake it up" (i.e., it cannot possibly reduce the activity of a "dormant" protein). In addition, for some statistical tests, one-tailed tests are not possible.
Figure out the . The alternate hypothesis is the opposite of the null hypothesis. In other words, what happens if our experiment makes a difference?
Use the following formula to calculate your test value.
The decision rule is a statement that tells under what circumstances to reject the null hypothesis. The decision rule is based on specific values of the test statistic (e.g., reject H0 if Z > 1.645). The decision rule for a specific test depends on 3 factors: the research or alternative hypothesis, the test statistic and the level of significance. Each is discussed below.
When considering whether we reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis, we need to consider the direction of the alternative hypothesis statement. For example, the alternative hypothesis that was stated earlier is:
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(the denominator of the test statistic).
The level of statistical significance is often expressed as the so-called p-value. Depending on the statistical test you have chosen, you will calculate a probability (i.e., the p-value) of observing your sample results (or more extreme) given that the null hypothesis is true. Another way of phrasing this is to consider the probability that a difference in a mean score (or other statistic) could have arisen based on the assumption that there really is no difference. Let us consider this statement with respect to our example where we are interested in the difference in mean exam performance between two different teaching methods. If there really is no difference between the two teaching methods in the population (i.e., given that the null hypothesis is true), how likely would it be to see a difference in the mean exam performance between the two teaching methods as large as (or larger than) that which has been observed in your sample?
How to Set Up a Hypothesis Test: Null versus Alternative
The null hypothesis, H0 is the commonly accepted fact; it is the opposite of the . Researchers work to reject, nullify or disprove the null hypothesis. Researchers come up with an alternate hypothesis, one that they think explains a phenomenon, and then work to .
Use the following formula to calculate your test value.
The exact form of the research hypothesis depends on the investigator's belief about the parameter of interest and whether it has possibly increased, decreased or is different from the null value. The research hypothesis is set up by the investigator before any data are collected.
Null hypothesis: μ = 72 Alternative hypothesis: μ ≠72
So, you might get a p-value such as 0.03 (i.e., p = .03). This means that there is a 3% chance of finding a difference as large as (or larger than) the one in your study given that the null hypothesis is true. However, you want to know whether this is "statistically significant". Typically, if there was a 5% or less chance (5 times in 100 or less) that the difference in the mean exam performance between the two teaching methods (or whatever statistic you are using) is as different as observed given the null hypothesis is true, you would reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. Alternately, if the chance was greater than 5% (5 times in 100 or more), you would fail to reject the null hypothesis and would not accept the alternative hypothesis. As such, in this example where p = .03, we would reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis. We reject it because at a significance level of 0.03 (i.e., less than a 5% chance), the result we obtained could happen too frequently for us to be confident that it was the two teaching methods that had an effect on exam performance.
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