Monday, October 17, 2016

Pew Research's "The art and science of the scatterplot"

Sometimes, we need to convince our students that taking a statistics class changes the way they think for the better.

This example demonstrates that one seemingly simple skill, interpreting a scatter plot, is tougher than it seems. Pew Research conducted a survey on scientific thinking in America (here is a link to that survey) and they found that only 63% of American adults can correctly interpret the linear relationship illustrated in the scatter plot below. And that 63% came out a survey with multiple choice responses!

How to use in class:
-Show your students that a major data collection/survey firm decided that interpreting statistics was an appropriate question on their ten-item quiz of scientific literacy.
-Show your students that many randomly selected Americans can't interpret a scatter plot correctly.

And for us instructors:
-Maybe a seemingly simple task like the one in this survey isn't as intuitive as we think it is!