Hypothesis Testing

This statistical vignette was developed by Diana Garcia Silva, Meethila Rahman, Michelle Weirathmueller, Steve Juliano, and Dax Soule


Hypothesis Testing is a widely used data analysis tool to make inferences or draw conclusions about an area of interest for a population from a selected sample, such as the addition of a new course of study or to test if a new medicine is effective. A hypothesis test evaluates two types of statements for a population by comparing their results using the mean, standard deviation, and sample size. The null hypothesis can be described as the "status quo" with no changes occurring, while the alternative hypothesis expects a change to occur. The benefit of the test is that it can be used to determine the significance of the data and understand an outcome with limited information.       

Learning Objectives 

  • Identify circumstances where hypothesis testing is useful and appropriate
  • Differentiate between null hypothesis and an alternate hypothesis
  • Determine whether or not to "reject" or "fail to reject" null hypothesis with the alternate

Context for Use

This vignette can be used in either a single lab or lecture session and should take between 15 and 20 minutes for introductory or intermediate level students. The vignette could be utilized in a variety of modules that test for a statistical difference between a population mean and its assumed standard deviation and the selected sample. Modules for consideration include the Water Quality Module, where nitrate concentration averages for a single storm event can be compared for an urban versus rural community; and the Bomb Cyclone module to test if a bomb cyclones barometric pressure is significantly greater than a hurricane.

Suggested Modules 

Water QualityBomb Cyclones - They're Explosive!

Description and Materials 

View the PowerPoint file and the instructor notes to help engage students during the presentation of the vignette.

Hypothesis Testing Statistical Vignette PowerPoint (PowerPoint 3MB Oct26 22)


1. Gravetta, Frederick J and Wallnau, Larry B. Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences. (2015). 10th Edition. Chapter 8, 132-265. Cengage Learning. Print.

2. Healey, Joseph F. Statistics: A Tool for Social Research. (2012). 9th Edition. Chapter 8, 181-190. Cengage Learning. Print.


Comment? Start the discussion about Hypothesis Testing