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Tag: statistics education

Attitudes Toward Statistics Scale (ATS)

A commonly-referenced survey for measuring attitudes about statistics is the Attitudes Toward Statistics Scale (ATS) (Wise, 1985). In their meta-analysis, Nolan, Beran, and Hecker (2012) helpfully provide a link to the ATS instrument: http://bit.ly/Tl3ATj (.doc). However, it is not clear to readers that the website that the shortened URL points to hosts another ATS-related file. This file (.doc) is a memo from Steven Wise about using the instrument that contains information not found in the original publication (Wise, 1985), including the item-construct mapping. This memo should be helpful for any researchers interested in the original items of the ATS.

References

Nolan, M. M., Beran, T., & Hecker, K. G. (2012). Surveys assessing students’ attitudes toward statistics: A systematic review of validity and reliability. Statistics Education Research Journal, 11(2), 103–123.

Wise, S. L. (1985). The development and validation of a scale measuring attitudes toward statistics. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 45(2), 401–405.

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Prudential's "Stickers" Commercial

I spotted a dot plot while watching TV the other day:

It isn't too frequently that one sees a dot plot on TV, so this is a good opportunity to discuss something students might have encountered. Using this commercial might be a worthwhile topic of discussion in a statistics lesson.

The apparently constructed the dot plot by asking 400 people "How old is the oldest person you've known?" A few more details can be gleaned from the Prudential website and a "behind the scenes" video that was shot.

A few things that can be discussed with students come to mind:

  • What can we actually conclude from the dot plot?
  • The description of the YouTube video describes this as an "experiment" (as does the narrator in the behind the scenes video). Is this really an experiment?
  • What do we know about the sample?
  • What happens as we get older in terms of the oldest person "[we]'ve known"? (Children and adults with a wide range of ages are asked to place a sticker.)

There's a 30 second version of the advertisement, too.

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An actual comic on statistical literacy!

Statistical literacy is necessary for everyone, and this comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal sums it up nicely. (I'm not entirely certain of the technical term for the attitude the woman holds toward the data, but in discussing similar people and situations with colleagues the term that seems to fit is that such people feel that they are 'immune from variability' - that somehow they are exempt from randomness (maybe a 'lite' version of solipsism?). Either way, it could probably be characterized as Level A in the GAISE framework.)

smbc_2080-20101201

Copyright Zach Weiner (SMBC). Used with permission.
keywords: statistical literacy; terrorists; airplanes; texting; texting and driving; rare events;

For more statistics-related comics, check out the master post.

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Statistics: A Guide to the Unknown

Statistics: A Guide to the Unknown, now in its fourth edition, is the product of the ASA-NCTM Joint Committee aimed at introducing statistics, in a non-technical way, to a wide audience. The book is a series of essays on a variety of topics that would likely appeal to many casual readers with the broad goal of improving statistical literacy. There is a strand of research that suggests that attitudes have an effect on achievement (in statistics education); positive attitudes can lead to better achievement. (For more information, see SERJ Volume 11(2), the special issue on attitudes toward statistics.)

Statistics A Guide to the Unknown 3rd edition coverThe third edition (Tanur, Mosteller, Kruskal, Lehmann, Fink, Pieters, & Rising, 1989; featuring essays grouped into four main areas: the biological, political, social, and physical world) is freely available in digital form at the Cengage website. Use the drop-down box to select the different parts of the book. Particularly for introductory courses, these essays may be a valuable tool for convincing students that statistics is useful and valuable.

The fourth edition (Peck, Casella, Cobb, Hoerl, Nolan, Starbuck, & Stern, 2006) seems to be a substantially new volume (hence making the older edition freely available). I have no experience with it, but one would imagine that it has been updated to stay relevant to the public.

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Statistics Education and Wikipedia

The summer before my freshman year of college I discovered Wikipedia. I had known about and used it for some time before (I thought the list of events, births, deaths, etc. for each day was both novel and fascinating), but I really discovered it through finally editing and contributing. Photographs, copy editing, mundane tasks. I performed them all and then some. What I did not do, however, was contribute meaningful content in the form of articles (new articles or expansions of existing ones). Once college began, the flurry of editing I had done stopped. A typo here, a broken link there, but I was no longer considered myself an editor of Wikipedia.

What I did still do was use Wikipedia (as so many millions of others do). For everything from linguistics to parts of the automobile, Wikipedia remained in my life. Of course, one should not cite Wikipedia, but it was a fantastic place to get a quick, broad overview of a topic and to find more search terms to use. When I tried this same technique with concepts in my new field (Statistics Education for those of you just tuning in), Wikipedia began to turn up empty. When it didn't turn up empty, the articles related to statistics and education (usually separate) were rarely adequate. I decided to do something about it.

Now, I haven't done much yet (in the grand scheme of things), but I am actively contributing to Wikipedia again. Some stuff has changed since 2006, but not all that much. I've even met a fine chap who goes by the name of Statistisfactions that is also pursuing Statistics Education and has similar interests to me! Oh, Wikipedia. (He also runs a pretty neat blog that I had discovered independently of his Wikipedia user page, so that is worth checking out.)

Right now, there isn't much to show for 'it all,' but there is plenty of time. I view editing Wikipedia as engaging in the Scholarship of Service (from Boyer's Domains of Scholarship, a model that my department adopted some years back). Wikipedia's power to inform the public and possibly shape discussions is tremendous, and I don't want to sit by idly while others write the story of Statistics Education. (Of course, avoiding conflicts of interest, self-promotion, and other related issues that arise from writing about one's own field is on my mind. I don't think it is that big of an issue for the time being.)

A few final notes on a long overdue post: I'm trying to be productive while procrastinating this year, and I think I can do a lot worse than watching TED talks, editing Wikipedia, and doing this blog. Also, hello to the 130 visitors this website had on Valentine's Day from Palo Alto. Anyone care to share why I was so popular then? (I only had 151 visitors total that day, and that is an order of magnitude more than I usually have.)

 

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