Statistics have become an important part of everyday life. We are confronted by them in newspapers and magazines, on television and in general conversations. We encounter them when we discuss the cost of living, unemployment, medical breakthroughs, weather predictions, sports, politics and the state lottery. Although we are not always aware of it, each of us is an informal statistician. We are constantly gathering, organizing and analyzing information and using this data to make judgments and decisions that will affect our actions.
In this unit of study we will try to improve the students’ understanding of the elementary topics included in statistics. The unit will begin by discussing terms that are commonly used in statistics. It will then proceed to explain and construct frequency distributions, dot diagrams, histograms, frequency polygons and cumulative frequency polygons. Next, the unit will define and compute measures of central tendency including the mean, median and mode of a set of numbers. Measures of dispersion including range and standard deviation will be discussed. Following the explanation of each topic, a set of practice exercises will be included.
There are several basic objectives for this unit of study. Upon completion of the unit, the student will be able to:
—define basic terms used in statistics.
—compute simple measures of central tendency.
—compute measures of dispersion.
—construct tables and graphs that display measures of central tendency.
The material developed here may be used as a whole unit, or parts of it may be extracted and taught in various courses. The elementary concepts may be incorporated into general mathematics classes in grades seven to twelve, and the more difficult parts may be used in advanced algebra classes in the high school. Depending upon the amount of material used, several days or several weeks may be allotted to teach the unit.