Common Core Standards: Math
6. Evaluate reports based on data.
Students should understand that even though statistics has more charts, tables, and numbers than your students might think is humanly possible, that's not all statistics encompasses. There are meanings behind the numbers. Yes, we're talking about context.
Students must evaluate their knowledge and understanding of statistical principles in the proper context. Students must be able to read an analysis or report and actually decipher the intent, the meaning, and the significance of what's in front of them.
It sounds easy, but critical thinking isn't! It can only occur once the fundamentals are mastered and knowledge can be used to actually critique something. Here are some good questions to ask the class and facilitate understanding.
- What is the purpose of the study?
- How did the authors go about collecting data?
- Were the collection methods appropriate for this particular study?
- Were they randomized?
- Were the significance levels appropriate?
- What was the null hypothesis?
- What was the alternative hypothesis?
- Were the correct statistical tests used for the data?
- Was the data fully presented?
- Who were the study participants?
- Who funded the study? Can bias arise from that?
- What were the results?
- Why are the results significant even if there were no significant findings?
Aside from asking questions about already completed studies, students can come up with hypothetical studies to help develop a deeper understanding of the core concepts. That way, students can choose topics that interest them and think about how they would go about testing aspects of these topics to ensure statistical validity.