How to Teach to be Statistically Literate
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Unreviewed Activity submitted in preparation for the NNN Writing with Numbers Workshop
in this activity students learn how to understand the very meaning of statistical information mainly by reading the metadata and their importance for understanding the data: definitions, classifications, methods adopted.
The activities planned aimed at stimulate the students in order to adopt a critical thinking when they approach every kind of information in the different fields they are involved. Through this approach they can face data analysis, they can make a synthesis of the ideas and develope a model through which it would be possibile to repeat every kind of study or experiment. Related to these activities, the students should be provided with tools which enable them to write scientific reports and to make an oral presentation.
Context for Use
The activities aimed at improving the diverse skills requested for being statistically literate are carried out through two different tools: the organization of meetings lasting 3,4 hours with students and their teachers where a researcher explains how to use metadata before to access the data. The meeting makes use of examples, mainly from everyday life, so the students can easily understand the topics. In this way they can make questions and transform the meeting into a discussion. The second tool is the presentation of the website released for teaching statistical literacy, called "The worth of data".
Description and Teaching Materials
We use the web site http://www.istat.it/servizi/studenti/valoredati/ [file 'a web site'] This site is organized into three sections: the first, on the left side, provides a general introduction to the main themes: population, labour, prices, environment. This section makes available the data, the metadata and a presentation of the themes. The central section contains four chapters where you can browse according to the four topics: the statistical information for decision making; the basics of statistics: collecting, producing, disseminating the data; how to trust the quality of the data; how to use statistical data. The third section provides a list of tools such as the classifications, the definitions and the methods adopted, the glossaries, the guide for writing a scientific report, the scientific magazines and other useful websites.
Teaching Notes and Tips
When we use this tool, we invite teachers and students to read very carefully the section about metadata. Only after this reading we suggest to access statistical data and to apply the metadata (the information acquired about the data) for a good understanding of statistical information.
After the meeting or after the exchange of information through the e-mail we invite the students to send us comments and observations.