|Department||Department of Geography, Lancaster University, LA1 4YB|
|Tel.||+44 (0)1524 593740|
|Fax.||+44 (0)1524 847099|
One major problem for new students is that they learn but do not understand. Nowhere is this more evident than in their use of statistics - in the sense of numerical data. The tendency is for students just to memorise data and interpret them in a superficial way without questioning what the data mean. A related problem is the extent to which an apparently simple concept (such as unemployment, welfare, safety or growth) can be measured fully and unambiguously by a single variable or criterion.
This tutorial presents students with some data and through careful probing seeks to help them to appreciate the complexity of data interpretation and the difficulty of capturing broad concepts in a single variable.
A useful set of data to give the students would be the following: "In 1995, 3621 people were killed, 45,523 seriously injured and 261,000 slightly injured in road traffic accidents in the UK. Are British roads safe?"
Points for discussion would include the following:
The conclusion to the discussion could focus on: