rst-year students at her small college. Participants in the study (first-year students at her college) complete an online memory task. The students are first shown a list of 120 words. Next, they are shown a list that includes five new words that are completely unrelated to words on the original list. Then they are asked to identify the words on the second list that appeared on the original list. She uses the percentage of new unrelated words that were mistakenly thought to be on the original list as her measure of memory quality. She also asks the students to report several characteristics such as their age, their gender, and a self-assessment of their study skills.
Each of the 500 first-year students (268 males and 232 females) at her school volunteers to participate. The professor chose 50 students at random to complete the memory task and answer the questions. The average percentage of new unrelated words that were mistakenly thought to be on the original list was 12%. The professor infers that if all 500 first-year students had completed the study, the results would show that an average of 12% (plus or minus sampling error) of new words were mistakenly identified as original words despite being completely unrelated to the words on the original list.