**Statistics Every Writer Should Know

This site provides an introduction to basic statistical concepts for journalists and writers with little math background. Key Words: Mean; Median; Percent Changes; Per capita; Rates; Standard Deviation; Normal Distribution; Margin of Error; Confidence Interval; Data Analysis; Sample Sizes; Statistical Tests; Student's T.
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Author Name: 
Robert Niles
Content Quality Concerns: 
The graphs are good, but more could be helpful. Because the intended audience is journalism students rather than statistics students, the author does not use statistical notation in every case one might, such as when introducing formulas or sample statistics. Most formulas are given only in words in a paragraph and not in equation format. These formulas, given in sentence format, were not explained from a conceptual viewpoint but only from a computational viewpoint. There is some concern that in an effort to simplify the material for the intended audience some incorrect statements were made in the standard deviation and margin of error tutorials. For example, the tutorial on standard deviation summarizes it as the "mean of the mean," which does not convey that it is a measure of how variable the data are. Also, the margin of error page states that "a margin of error is a confidence interval," but does not explain that it is used to calculate confidence intervals.
Content Quality Strengths: 
This website provides a basic introduction of statistical concepts with clear explanations and good examples. Overall, the information is conceptually correct and includes useful points, for example, to use the median instead of the mean in certain settings. Please note the errors listed in the concerns.
Ease of Use Concerns: 
The tutorial is all reading. Students that have trouble reading paragraph after paragraph with few visuals may lose focus. It may be difficult not to skim.
Ease of Use Strengths: 
This tutorial is simple, clear, and easy to use. There are two easy ways to navigate this tutorial. 1) The introductory page lists all the lessons in a reasonable order; 2) Each page has a link to the "next page" at the end. While it isn't necessary to read the pages in order, it is easy to do so and allows the reader to easily go through all of them. The reading is easy. It is written as if the author is talking to you or lecturing, which makes it more interesting.
Potential Effectiveness Concerns: 
These explanations may be at a level too simple to be integrated into some statistics curricula, depending on the assumptions made about prior knowledge. The tutorial only requires students to read and does not encourage students to be actively involved in learning. The author's comments about "Math Geek Stuff" and formulas not being important, although probably intended to be humorous, may undermine a teacher's ability to encourage students to learn formulas. There is a serious concern about the non-positive tone in the standard deviation and margin of error lessons toward learning statistics.
Potential Effectiveness Strengths: 
The exposition is clear, engaging, and maintains an appropriate level of difficulty. The tutorial uses familiar examples to highlight each concept. Introductory level students should be able to use these tutorials by themselves to learn about several of the topics. It includes some good warnings like making sure writers understand what margin of error means before trying to interpret poll results and understanding the difference between correlation and causation. For courses with prerequisites that should have provided this level of understanding, this web site is useful for self-remediation on concepts with which students may still have trouble.
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Source Code Available: 
Source Code Available
Intended User Role: 
Learner, Teacher
Material Type: 
Resource Type: 
Free for All

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