Statistical Significance and Meaningfulness

Discussion: Statistical Significance and Meaningfulness Once you start to understand how exciting the world of statistics can be, it is tempting to fall into the trap of chasing statistical significance. That is, you may be tempted always to look for relationships that are statistically significant and believe they are valuable solely because of their significance. Although statistical hypothesis testing does help you evaluate claims, it is important to understand the limitations of statistical significance and to interpret the results within the context of the research and its pragmatic, “real world” application. As a scholar-practitioner, it is important for you to understand that just because a hypothesis test indicates a relationship exists between an intervention and an outcome, there is a difference between groups, or there is a correlation between two constructs, it does not always provide a default measure for its importance. Although relationships are significant, they can be very minute relationships, very small differences, or very weak correlations. In the end, we need to ask whether the relationships or differences observed are large enough that we should make some practical change in policy or practice.

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