Lesson 0: Prerequisite Skills

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What is Statistics?

Statistics: The art and science of answering questions and exploring ideas through the processes of gathering data, describing data, and making generalizations about a population on the basis of a smaller sample

Statistical literacy: “People’s ability to interpret and critically evaluate statistical information and data-based arguments appearing in diverse media channels, and their ability to discuss their opinions regarding such statistical information” (Gal, as cited by Rumsey, 2002, below)

Statistical literacy is important because you are faced with statistics problems in your personal and professional lives.


Choosing a Medication

Your doctor gives you the option to choose one of two different medications. She provides you with research studies comparing the two medications. How can you use those research studies to inform your decision? 

Fantasy Football

In planning for your fantasy football team you come across many tables of statistics. How can you synthesize all of those numbers to best inform your fantasy football draft?

School Curriculum

Your child's school is selecting a new science curriculum. The administration has narrowed it down to three different curricula and is asking parents to vote. What information would you ask for to inform your vote?

Driving to Work

There are two routes that you could take to get to work in the morning. If you go through town, it usually takes between 6 and 14 minutes, depending on the traffic and red lights. If you take the interstate, it consistently takes 10 minutes. Which route will you take to work this morning?

Health Insurance

Your employer offers two different health insurance options. Option A will cost you \$25 per month and have a \$1300 annual deductible before covering you at 80%. Option B will cost you \$100 per month and have a \$250 annual deductible before covering you at 100%. How will you estimate which option is best for you?

Marketing Decisions

Your company has put you in charge of making a decision between two marketing campaigns. How will you decide which campaign to choose?


This is not a mathematics course. While you will need to be able to apply some elementary mathematical procedures (e.g., multiplication, division, exponents, summations), the emphasis of this course is on improving your statistical literacy. On the next page you will review the mathematical operations that we will use this semester.

Rumsey, D. J. (2002). Statistical literacy as a goal for introductory statistics courses. Journal of Statistics Education, 10(3). Retrieved from http://www.amstat.org/publications/jse/v10n3/rumsey2.html