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Improving Statistical Literacy in School and Society: The UK Experience Peter Holmes RSS Centre for Statistical Education, Nottingham, England Background 40 years in UK Schools Initially for age 16 to 18 academic students Later for all ages 7 to 18 and all abilities The Initial Introduction Part of a specialist mathematics course An alternative to theoretical mechanics Suitable for students of biology, geography & economics Content classical mathematical statistics - probability, distributions, hypothesis testing, correlation & regression Two Trends Disappointment with the course for 16 18 year olds Rise of modern mathematics in secondary schools Disappointment Emphasised mathematics rather than statistics Did not develop practical skills Was not as much use to other subject areas as hoped Into the Main School Education for everyone (Half our Future) Emphasis on numeracy - using number in practice Simple probability and statistical representation in secondary schools Collecting and interpreting data in primary schools Schools Council Project on Statistical Education RSS initiative 6 year programme costing then £250k (say 1.6 million Euros today) What is statistics? Why teach it? Who and how teach it? Develop teaching materials What is Statistics? What statisticians do!! Statistics is a practical subject devoted to obtaining and processing data with a view to making statements which often extend beyond the data. These statements are called inferences. Why Teach Statistics to All? Statistics is an integral part of our culture Statistical thinking is an essential part of numeracy Exposure to real data can aid personal development and decision making Statistical ideas are widely used at work after school Early exposure can give sound intuition, later formalised Who and how? - Two Distracting Reasons Statistics is an essential part of present day mathematics Statistics is useful to many other parts of the school curriculum Two Global Aims Pupils should become aware of and appreciate The role of statistics in society - the many and various fields in which statistical ideas are used The nature of statistical thinking - the power and limitations of statistical thought Mathematics Counts - The Cockcroft report Government enquiry into teaching of mathematics (early 1980’s) Influential in later developments Evidence given by RSS Major references to statistics especially §§775 & 781 §775 Statistics is not just a set of techniques, it is an attitude of mind in approaching data. In particular it acknowledges the fact of uncertainty and variability in data collection. It enables people to make decisions in the face of this uncertainty. §781 Statistical numeracy requires a feel for numbers, an appreciation of levels of accuracy, the making of sensible estimates, a common sense approach to data in supporting an argument, the awareness of the variety of interpretation of figures and a judicious understanding of widely used concepts such as mean and percentages. All these are part of everyday living. The First National Curriculum in Mathematics Mid ‘80s For all ages 5 to 16 Reflected Cockcroft About 25% on data handling, little probability Flawed by assessment Current Proposals for the National Curriculum RSS involvement Slightly less statistics More practical and investigational in approach Based an investigational cycle The Cycle Specify the Problem Plan Interpret & Discuss Process & Represent Collect Data Content linked to the Cycle Pupils should be taught to carry out every aspect of the Handling Data Cycle Communicate mathematically using diagrams linked to related explanatory text Make decisions about problem solving strategies to use in their statistical work Links to Use in Society Through problems and investigations gain insight into how statistics are used in real life to make informed decisions Pupils should be introduced to important uses of statistics in society Interpret statistics from society, including index numbers (General Index of Retail Prices); time series (population growth) and survey data (National Census) RSS Outreach to General Public Educational Response to Government Consultation Papers Public lectures and meetings Media contacts Educational Associate School Programme Workshops for teachers Local Meetings Representation on Working Parties and Development Groups Support for the RSS Centre for Statistical Education Response to Government Initiatives New Centres for teaching and learning Institute for learning and teaching Environment and Pollution Official Statistics Public Lectures and Meetings The Beveridge lecture on social issues Unemployment measures Media Contacts There is a list of members who can be called on by the Press and other media for informed statistical comment on any major issue of the day. And the Work Continues