Making valid comparisons between data sets

Thursday 30th June 2022

A topic that frequently arises in examiners' reports reflects on students' ability to make valid comparisons between data sets.

This year, we've offered a suite of three short professional development courses, each lasting up to two hours, investigating how data can be visualised in the classroom and how changes to the data affect these visualisations. These courses also investigated how, through these changes, we can help to develop students' understanding and appreciation of summary statistics, their ability to make comparisons between different data sets, and their ability to efficiently analyse data and make inferences.

Each course within the suite focused on a different element of data visualization. The first online course concentrated on the dynamic visualisation of data, and we used Excel and the Desmos graphing calculator to manipulate and explore data visualisation. The second online course focused on efficiently generating different samples to help develop students' understanding and appreciation of how samples can affect summary statistics and the inferences that are made.

Whilst parts one and two of the suite were appropriate for teachers of any Key Stage, the third part focused on hypothesis testing, and how samples effect the outcomes of a hypothesis test and how inferences vary depending on the sample.

These three short courses will be on offer again in the 2022/23 spring term and you can apply for one, two, or all three of the online sessions. Parts one and two are suitable for anyone who teaches some statistics. Keep an eye on the AMSP South West regional events page for when these events open for bookings – we'd love for you to join us!

Teachers who attended the course this year made the following comments:

  • I really liked the interactive aspect of the course – being able to put the techniques into action straight away.
  • "I find that the ability to change histograms and box plots by adding/removing data is a great way to check students' understanding."

If you'd like to get a flavour of what can be created, take a look at this short Desmos classroom activityOpens a new window.

By Margaret Harding

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