Director of the
W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project
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This is the text being used as the Statistical Literacy
textbook at Augsburg College. This text was
developed as a key part of the W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project.
In 2005, Capella University began offering Statistical Literacy on-line
using this textbook. Dr. Valerie Perkins, Dean of Capella's School of
Under-graduate Studies, notes, "Schield's approach to statistical
literacy helps Capella students think critically while satisfying Capella's
general education requirement in mathematical and logical reasoning."
Peter Holmes, Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education,
"I am convinced that the standard first course in statistics, which
focuses on getting to significance testing and confidence intervals, isn't
an appropriate aim for a lot of students. I think Milo's approach to
statistical literacy is much closer to what is needed by journalists, by
policy makers, by those in business commerce or management and by most
people in everyday life."
Statistical Literacy is closely related to numeracy, quantitative
literacy/reasoning and statistical thinking/reasoning. They all focus
on concepts or techniques involving numbers in context -- typically numbers
presented in the daily news.
But there are differences. Quantitative literacy/reasoning typically
focuses on math topics such as rates and rates of change, percent of, graphs
of change (first and second derivatives), linear and exponential rates of
growth, accumulation (integral), installment loans, savings and weighted
averages, indexes and condensed measures, estimation, plane geometry,
graphical production and representation and probability (single and
conditional). Statistical thinking/reasoning typically focuses on
statistics involving distributions and variation -- specifically random
variation such as that encountered in random selection or random assignment.
Both quantitative reasoning and statistical thinking focus primarily on math
problems, math techniques and math concepts.
Statistical Literacy is quite different. Statistical Literacy studies
statistics used as evidence in everyday arguments. As such this text
may be closer to critical thinking or rhetoric than to mathematics or
statistics. This text uses the admonition, "Take CARE!" as a reminder
that statistics are human constructs. Statistical literacy studies
those factors that influence the size and direction of a statistic.
Each of the four letters in CARE stand for a kind of influence on the size
of a statistic: Context (comparisons, ratios, study design and confounding), Assembly (how statistics are defined
and presented), Randomness (chance, margin of error and statistical
significance) and Error or bias. The bulk of the book is
spent on the first two types of influence.
The goal of the text is to help readers evaluate the strengths and
weaknesses in statistics that are used as evidence in everyday arguments.
These statistics include government-generated statistics: country-wide
statistics (c.f., US Statistical Abstract), education statistics (c.f.,
National Assessment of Educational Progress) and health statistics (c.f., Center for Disease Control).
This text is quite different. Instead of algebra, it uses ordinary
English to describe and compare counts, measures and conditional
probabilities. It focuses on reading and interpreting statistics
presented in tables and graphs. It present a new graphical technique to
show how a factor is "taken in account" or "controlled for."
It requires "hypothetical thinking" for students to imagine how
things might have been defined, measured, compared or presented differently.
It requires hypothetical thinking for students to imagine plausible
confounders for observed associations.
The first editions are
limited distribution editions used primarily for teaching while
developing the associated assignments and quizzes. The 5th edition (2011) is updated to go with the
more than 1,000 Moodle exercises
that are available to teachers that use this book.
Over a Hundred Topics (Over a Thousand Problems):
As Lynn Steen noted, "concept" QL courses tend to be light on
exercises. Over 130 homework topics involving right-wrong exercises have been
identified for this book. More than a hundred of these topics have been implemented in Moodle as multiple choice
quizzes with over a thousand problems. Having right-wrong exercises
online gives students immediate feedback, eliminates the need for instructor grading, minimizes the class time
needed to review these topics, and allows the instructor to see which kinds
of exercises are giving the students the most difficulty. Here is a current
list of the class-room tested,
Moodle-based, right-wrong exercises.
The part-whole reading drill
program has 186
problems. 131 descriptions, 43 common-part comparisons and
12 distinct part comparisons.
The writing drill program currently has 301 problems: 6
chance-related, 266 tables, 14 bar graphs and 15
The most recent upgrade was to
add chance/probability grammar to both programs.
a game of lively discourse Odysseys (a unique
web forum) is used to facilitate
See this under Statistical Literacy tools.
Fall 2012 Challenges
Spring 2013 Fall 2013. Advice to reviewers:
Dr. Milo Schield is Director of the W. M. Keck
Statistical Literacy Project and a professor in Business Administration at Augsburg
College. He received his Ph.D. from Rice University.
"A small educational movement advocating statistical literacy has
emerged. Professor Milo Schield, Director of the W. M. Keck Statistical
Literacy Project, at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, is the movement's
leading voice." Dr. Joel Best, author of More Damned Lies and
Milo Schield (2005), Director of the W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy
Project, argued that instructors have the responsibility to not only teach
basic statistical competence, but to become "evangelists" for statistical
literacy. He argued that we should develop introductory statistics
courses that attract students because students find the material enjoyable
and beneficial. To foster statistical literacy, teachers and students
must discuss and argue everyday, real-world examples of statistics from the
media, news, and journal studies. As a results, the ultimate course
evaluation should consist of measuring students' "appreciation for the value
of statistics in everyday life" (p 4.)
Schield, M (2005). Statistical Literacy: An Evangelical Calling for
Statistical Educators, 2005 ISI. See
2011: Milo Schield installed as member of the ISI: At the 21st conference of the International Statistical Institute
(ISI), Dr. Milo Schield was elected as one of
members. At the inaugural reception in Dublin Ireland, Milo is
shown with Ron Wasserstein (ASA Director), with Dr.
A. John Bailar (ISI
Membership Elections Committee chair) and with Cynthia Schield (his wife).