Making Sense of Statistical Studies
Roxy Peck
Department of Statistics, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, United States

Recognition of the importance of statistical literacy has resulted in the incorporation of many graphical and numerical statistical techniques into the primary and secondary mathematics curricula. However, statistical literacy requires more than the ability to construct graphs and compute numerical summaries of data. Many important concepts of statistics, such as the role that the method of data collection plays in determining the type of analysis that is appropriate and the type and scope of conclusions that can be drawn and the role that sampling variability plays in drawing conclusions from data, are not mathematical in nature. As a consequence, they are not easily integrated into mathematics courses. When these topics are neglected, students are not well-equipped to evaluate statistical studies described in the media. In particular, students do not have a foundation that allows them to decide if conclusions drawn are reasonable or to think about to what group the conclusions would apply. To address this concern, materials were designed to help students (and teachers) develop the conceptual understanding needed for statistical literacy. By focusing on study design (observational studies (with and without random selection), surveys, and experiments), these materials provide an overall framework that enables students to see how the procedural aspects of statistics that they have encountered in mathematics courses are just a part of the overall data analysis process. This paper will describe the approach taken in these materials, why this particular approach was chosen, and how these materials are being used both in the secondary classroom and also as part of professional development workshops for teachers.

Keywords: Statistical literacy; Statistics education in secondary school

Biography: Roxy Peck is currently Professor Emerita of Statistics at Cal Poly. While at Cal Poly, she served as Associate Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics and Chair of the Statistics Department. Internationally known in the area of statistics education, Roxy was made a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1998 and in 2003 she received the American Statistical Association's Founders Award in recognition of her contributions to K-12 and undergraduate statistics education. She is the author of several statistics text books and editor of Statistics: A Guide to the Unknown, a collection of expository papers that showcase applications of statistical methods.