This tutorial website, intended for journalists and other writers who need to be able to write with statistics, but who do not have a math or statistics background, is divided into three parts and provides a ¿plain English¿ review of various concepts in statistics. The first part explains the concepts of mean, median, percent change, per capita, standard deviation, and normal distribution. The second part covers margin of error, confidence intervals, recognizing valid studies, sample size, and selecting the appropriate statistical test, which refers readers to other sites with more detailed lessons. The third part and final page of the tutorial explains the basics of the t-test and provides a link to a t-table. Examples are included to help clarify the concepts. This site is intended to help people with no statistical training to use statistical evidence appropriately. For those who want or need more detail, links for further reading are provided and include sources of data and a bookstore.
Type of Material:
This tutorial is a collection of linked webpages. It could be used as reference material.
This tutorial is intended for writers with no statistical background to learn basic statistical concepts without the aid of a teacher in order to write appropriate summaries of statistical studies. It can also be used as an introduction to statistical concepts for beginning students or others who have not had a statistics course and need to understand the statistical ideas commonly referred to in articles.
Users must have a computer with an Internet connection.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The major learning goals for this tutorial are for writers to grasp the basic concepts, uses, and limitations of various statistical terms and techniques such as mean, median, percent change, margin of error, standard deviation, and normal distribution. Rather than teach formulas and computation, this site would refer writers to statisticians, but with a conceptual understanding of the questions they should ask. After completing this tutorial, students should be able to critically analyze the use of statistics in news stories and other public venues and appropriately use statistics in journalistic writing.
Target Student Population:
This tutorial is intended for journalists or students who will be professional writers. It is appropriate for students who have no had a statistics course. It would also be useful for introductory statistics students who are not majoring in the subject and have no math background.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The only things readers of this tutorial should know are basic math skills, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root, and percents.
This website provides a basic introduction of statistical concepts with clear explanations and good examples. Overall, the information is conceptually correct and includes useful points, for example, to use the median instead of the mean in certain settings. Please note the errors listed in the concerns.
The graphs are good, but more could be helpful.
Because the intended audience is journalism students rather than statistics students, the author does not use statistical notation in every case one might, such as when introducing formulas or sample statistics.
Most formulas are given only in words in a paragraph and not in equation format. These formulas, given in sentence format, were not explained from a conceptual viewpoint but only from a computational viewpoint.
There is some concern that in an effort to simplify the material for the intended audience some incorrect statements were made in the standard deviation and margin of error tutorials. For example, the tutorial on standard deviation summarizes it as the "mean of the mean," which does not convey that it is a measure of how variable the data are. Also, the margin of error page states that "a margin of error is a confidence interval," but does not explain that it is used to calculate confidence intervals.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The exposition is clear, engaging, and maintains an appropriate level of difficulty.
The tutorial uses familiar examples to highlight each concept. Introductory level students should be able to use these tutorials by themselves to learn about several of the topics.
It includes some good warnings like making sure writers understand what margin of error means before trying to interpret poll results and understanding the difference between correlation and causation.
For courses with prerequisites that should have provided this level of understanding, this web site is useful for self-remediation on concepts with which students may still have trouble.
These explanations may be at a level too simple to be integrated into some statistics curricula, depending on the assumptions made about prior knowledge.
The tutorial only requires students to read and does not encourage students to be actively involved in learning.
The author's comments about "Math Geek Stuff" and formulas not being important, although probably intended to be humorous, may undermine a teacher's ability to encourage students to learn formulas.
There is a serious concern about the non-positive tone in the standard deviation and margin of error lessons toward learning statistics.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This tutorial is simple, clear, and easy to use.
There are two easy ways to navigate this tutorial. 1) The introductory page lists all the lessons in a reasonable order; 2) Each page has a link to the "next page" at the end. While it isn't necessary to read the pages in order, it is easy to do so and allows the reader to easily go through all of them.
The reading is easy. It is written as if the author is talking to you or lecturing, which makes it more interesting.
The tutorial is all reading. Students that have trouble reading paragraph after paragraph with few visuals may lose focus. It may difficult not to skim.
Other Issues and Comments:
Note: There are Ads by Google on the site; however, they are not intrusive.
Search by ISBN?
It looks like you have entered an ISBN number. Would you like to search using what you have
entered as an ISBN number?
Searching for Members?
You entered an email address. Would you like to search for members? Click Yes to continue. If no, materials will be displayed first. You can refine your search with the options on the left of the results page.