Statistics Applied in Education: Unexpected Findings from 44 Students

Are you a statistics teacher looking for a simple example of a t-test activity that you can use in your class? Here is an article on statistics applied in education. I describe a situation where the t-test can be applied right after learning the statistical test and understanding how it works. 

Teaching students through practical, hands-on exercise enables them to appreciate how the different analytical tools used in research can help them address issues and problems they encounter in their respective disciplines. I applied this teaching approach in one of my classes in the graduate school.

My students consisted of more than 44 graduates of different courses, namely education, biology, nursing, environmental science, public administration, mathematics, business, and tourism.

Statistics Applied in Education: t-test Application

After giving my students an LCD projector presentation to demonstrate an example of a t-test, a statistical tool to test differences between two groups of data, I gave them a simple situation. I asked them to find the difference between one’s heartbeat before and after exercise.

Since some of my students are nursing graduates, I asked them to record the heart rates of all 44 students in every 5-member group before exercise. After recording each of their classmates’ pulses, the whole class marched briskly in the classroom for about 5 minutes. Their heartbeats should be higher after the brisk walk in place.

I can’t keep myself from getting amused, seeing them enjoy the activity. I can see smiles on their faces. Those who can’t keep their peace laughed all the way. I even took a picture and a video to record this momentous occasion.

Exercise for Better Health

It was 7 p.m. as classes in the graduate school transpire from 5:30 to 8:30 in the evening. This activity is quite beneficial to employees of the various government and non-government institutions where these students are working. Sleepiness and tiredness of the whole workday are dispelled for the moment as they stretch their leg and face muscles.

t-test formula

Immediately after the exercise, each student recorded their heartbeats and gave them to their group leaders. The group leaders then recorded the numbers on the board for everyone to see.

Everyone in the class computed the t-test value and compared their results. Their results showed, of course, a significant difference between heartbeats before and after exercise.

But something intriguing happened. Some of the students had lower pulses after they exercised. These somehow puzzled us because, before the session, everyone rested for about 10 minutes or even more.

Discussion of the t-test Results

This finding shows that unexpected things do happen in doing research. And the explanation of this phenomenon requires further investigation.

Why did some of my students’ heartbeats decrease within a short period after exercise? Is this something worth investigating? Will we get the same results if a higher number of people are involved in the study?

In this case, I hypothesize that at the end of the day, everyone is quite stressed after work; thus, their rapid heartbeat. While doing the exercise, somehow, their muscles relaxed and caused blood flow to be much more efficient, causing their heartbeats to drop.

This phenomenon may be something that has already been discovered. A literature review should be done to find out. This finding could be a groundbreaking one. And computing for the t-test value may be applied to find out differences in means before and after exercise.

But I was wrong. Studies on the effect of exercise to heart rate have already been done.

Scientific findings have shown that delayed heart rate recovery is a strong predictor of mortality (Borresen and Lambert, 2008). Thus, those who have lower heartbeats after exercise were in better health. It has something to do with their fast recovery after strenuous activity.

This means that those few students with low heart rates after exercise are well-conditioned individuals. Perhaps, they have been exercising regularly. Those whose heartbeats were still up for 10 minutes are the ones who are not conditioned.

I would have asked those who had low heartbeats had I known this finding to verify. Statistics applied in the classroom reveals interesting areas of study.

More Benefits of Exercise to the Body

According to Elmagd (2016) in his review of the benefits of exercise, the following bodily effects will be experienced by those who regularly perform them:

  1. reduce stress and anxiety;
  2. boost happy chemicals like endorphins,
  3. improve self-confidence,
  4. increase brain power,
  5. sharpen memory, and
  6. increase muscle and bone strength.

For students enrolled in my statistics course, I told them that exercise helps them do better in class and get rid of their tiredness. Exercise changes the brain—for the better.

Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist, explains the brain-changing effect of exercise in the following video. She did to her audience the same thing I did to my students during the class.

A neuroscientist explains the brain-changing effect of exercise.

Elmagd (2016) further revealed that exercise can also prevent and reduce the following conditions:

  1. heart disease,
  2. obesity,
  3. blood sugar fluctuations,
  4. cardiovascular diseases, and
  5. cancer.

Pedagogical Approach that Works!

The whole activity transpired within the three-hour duration of classes each week. It consisted of a short lecture followed by the application of knowledge gained right there.

The event is quite memorable and found quite effective in getting across research and statistics principles and their real-life application. It is a demonstration of statistics applied in education.

The students were able to understand and actuate their learning through practical, hands-on experience. Most of the class were able to compute the t-test value without a fuss.

An example of a t-test in a real situation works. Statistics applied in education helps students learn better.


Abou Elmagd, M. (2016). Benefits, need and importance of daily exercise. Int. J. Phys. Educ. Sports Health, 3(5), 22-27.

Borresen, J., & Lambert, M. I. (2008). Autonomic control of heart rate during and after exercise. Sports medicine38(8), 633-646.

© 2012 October 28 P. A. Regoniel | Updated 8/19/20, 12/4/21