Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive Statistics is the name the Continuing Mathematics Project has given to a sequence of four units which deal with distributions, histograms, bar charts, frequency tables and measures of central tendency and dispersion.

The first unit, Presenting Statistics, aims to teach some basic statistical techniques that are useful for handling large quantities of figures and to get students to appreciate that statistics is concerned with describing a population rather than an individual. In particular, the objectives are that students will learn to distinguish 'continuous' from 'discrete' data, understand the terms 'frequency' and 'class interval', recognise and interpret certain 'shapes' for histograms, and understand the term 'cumulative frequency'.

The second unit, Descriptive Statistics 2 – Modes and Medians, aims for students to be able to calculate the mode (or modal class), the median, the two quartiles and the percentiles from a frequency table, compare the mode and median of a distribution and decide if the distribution is skewed, understand that the interquartile range measures the spread of a distribution and use percentiles for comparing two distributions.

The third unit, Descriptive Statistics 3 – Mean and Standard Deviation, aims for students to be able to calculate the mean and standard deviation of a set of data, and be aware that the mean is an alternative measure of central tendency (average) to the median and that the standard deviation is an alternative measure of dispersion (spread) to the interquartile range, be aware of some of the advantages and disadvantages of each and calculate the one standard deviation range and two standard deviation range in relation to the 'normal' curve.

The fourth unit, Descriptive Statistics 4 – Some Experiments, provides guidance on, and detailed instructions for, carrying out six practical experiments. The purpose of these experiments is to give students the opportunity to apply their statistical knowledge to data they will gather.

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