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Statistical Graphs: Aids Cases and Deaths by Year and Historical Poverty in the US

This material was originally developed by the the National Numeracy Network
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Summary

This assignment asks students in a Quantitative Literacy foundations course to summarize data by using graphs they create in an Excel spreadsheet. Working in pairs, students are to work on part I of the assignment by completing the following: 1) create an AIDS chart from the given data, 2) determine the mean and median of the data, and 3) summarize the information by identifying statistical trends. Once each pair of students completes part I they have to complete part II by doing the following: 1) create a Poverty by Race Chart from given data, 2) determine statistical trends from the data, 3) find percent increase/decrease the data represents, and 4) determine what type of graph they could use to display percent data and explain their choice.

Learning Goals

• Students will be able to take Excel data and create a line graph with title, axis labels, and legend,
• Use Excel to determine the mean and median of the data and be able to check the mean and median by hand,
• Summarize information by identifying statistical trends, and
• Determine percent of increase and decrease.

Context for Use

This assignment is the sixth of eleven computer labs given to students who must enroll in a lab in conjunction with a Math 101 class. (Math 101 is a Quantitative Literacy course taught at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, for students who do not successfully complete the QL test given to all incoming students.) The number of students in each lab (usually there are three labs per semester) ranges from 20—30 students, usually first-years, and is offered once a week (usually on Monday afternoons) for one hour and fifteen minutes. The concepts are introduced to the students in the Math 101 class and the lab is designed to reinforce these concepts by helping the students to "see" how the concepts might appear in the real world. Once the lab is complete, students can hand in a hard copy or submit the completed lab via a digital drop box. For those submitting a hard copy, a quick scan of the math is done and if correct, the lab is taken and the students are able to leave the lab. If the math is incorrect, the students are told where the error(s) is(are) and are asked to go back and make necessary corrections before final submission of the lab.

Teaching Notes and Tips

• Check to be sure students compute the median correctly when completing it by hand.
• Check that hard copies have names, date and lab assignment # on them. (Students submitting via drop box should also check this.)
• Check all work—mathematical and written. Math should be taken seriously as well as the writing of the information being relayed to the reader.

Assessment

Rubric for grading lab:

Graphs (20)
• Title (4)
• Labels (4)
• Legend (4)
• Name, Lab, Date (4)
• Appropriate scale (both axes) (4)
Math (40)
• Accurate reading of graph(s) to answer questions (20)
• Computations done correctly for: mean, median, percent increase/decrease (20)
Questions (40)
• Answers in desired format (10)
• Answers and conclusions justified (15)
• Valid argument(s) (15)