Statistics: the science of using information discovered from studying numbers

Thursday 25th March 2021

The diagram below shows the frequency density of the Daily Maximum Gust (0000-2400) (kn) in Camborne May-Oct 1987 and corresponding boxplot.

What do you see? What questions may the diagram invoke?

sw-2-Mar21

Things often go in cycles and, this term, a combination of Statistics and using technology to help support the teaching and learning of Statistics has been prominent for me.

The term started with a wonderful professional development session organised and run by Debbie Bland for the CODE Maths Hub on Developing Maths Pedagogy where the theme was Making Statistics More Interesting!

During the session, Paul Chillingworth, AMSP Statistics Professional Development Lead, used Desmos to get those attending to consider, “Why do we need to sample?”, “What makes a good sample?”, and to take a variety of different types of samples using Desmos, with the cumulative results visible. Graphs such as the one above were used and discussed by the teachers attending from across the South West region.

Following on from this, I recently ran a short session using Desmos with a local maths department where the focus was Statistics. Some of the teachers had used Desmos classroom activities before but hadn’t realised how easy it was to set up their own screens and activities. Others were new to using it and by the end were discussing ideas about how they could use it within their teaching, learning and assessment.

I’m also involved with delivering the AMSP's Live Online Professional Development (LOPD) Statistics course and some of the recent feedback included, “I really liked the Desmos stuff. Encourages me to use such stuff with my students.

When asked about the most useful parts of the course, teachers' comments included:

  • The explanation of the Hypothesis Testing as I really struggled to get my head round it and I was also unsure of how to explain certain parts.
  • Seeing how to use the technology that is available” (Geogebra, Desmos and Excel)

If I’m perfectly honest, when I first started teaching Statistics at A level (many years ago), I felt it was a lot of number crunching and routine and, not until I began teaching hypothesis testing, did I start to find it interesting. My perspective has changed completely; technology, accessible and real data, making inferences, exploring and interpreting the data, linking probability distributions with graphs, like above, and the introduction of Core Maths have played a major part in shifting my perspective completely. Statistics may not be as precise as some areas of maths, but it’s equally real and relevant and is playing a major part in all of our lives.

If you’re interested in developing your teaching of statistics, making it more relevant or just looking for different ways to incorporate ideas and technology, and to help your students understand more, you may be interested in the following:

  • AS and A level Maths: Statistics, one of the AMSP's LOPD courses, starting on Thursday 6 May 2021.
  • A level Maths: Statistics top-ups, one of the AMSP's self-paced On Demand Professional Development (ODPD) courses. This course is designed to support teachers who will be offering the Statistics elements in A level Mathematics, including those using spreadsheets in their work with the large data set.
  • Core Maths top-ups, another of the AMSP's self-paced ODPD courses. This course comprises a series of 'pods', designed to complement our LOPD course Core Maths common topics which starts on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

I’m planning two short online professional development sessions during the summer term for Statistics within GCSE and Statistics within Core Maths and A level. Details will be available in the summer term.

Here’s a little taster of some things you can do with Desmos:

By Margaret Harding

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