National Strategies Secondary Maths Collection - ICT Supporting Mathematics: Statistics
Collection Author: Craig Barton - Maths AST and creator of www.mrbartonmaths.com (TES Name: mrbartonmaths)
The ability that ICT has to process large quantities of information can be extremely useful if it allows pupils greater opportunities to analyse and interpret their results.
It is important to remember that the National Curriculum requires that pupils ‘should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through tasks focused on using appropriate ICT (for example, spreadsheets, databases, geometry or graphic packages)’.
In addition to the four sub-strands of Statistics there is an additional section called ‘Handling data problems’, in which there are large databases for pupils to manipulate with ICT in an attempt to answer a question posed of them. These cover more than one sub-strand, and would normally form the basis of a sequence of lessons.
There are many pieces of software available which can simulate many probability experiments. While this can be very useful for modelling complicated procedures or many repetitions there is still a need for pupils to engage in simple hands-on experiments.
ICT has a role to play in speeding up the display and encouraging interpretation of the results, while still allowing pupils to conduct the experiments themselves. In particular, spreadsheets can be very useful for recording results, using the ability to process the data and display it in a variety of graphs.
- This resource supports the two dice experiment lesson, but uses a spreadsheet to collate and display the results to speed up the experiment and allow for greater analysis of the results.
- Extends the previous resource to look at situations involving bias.
- This spreadsheet randomly selects a card from a full deck of cards, with or without replacement. Pupils are encouraged to discuss probabilities and how the selection of the card shown changed the outcome of the next trial.
2. Processing and Representing Data
ICT obviously has a role to play in processing and representing data, but can also be used in other ways to engage and motivate pupils. Using digital still or video pictures is a quick way of introducing ideas and topics, and one that pupils, through the use of social networking websites, are used to accessing.
- Pupils rarely have the opportunity to process data into anything other than graphs, especially in unfamiliar contexts. In this example they are given a problem to solve which could be done on a spreadsheet, where there is no correct solution, only a best-fit solution.
3. Handling Data Problems
The programme of study for handling data emphasises the need to be able to use and apply skills learned in a variety of contexts. Pupils are often taught how to draw the same type of graph in many different year groups, but rarely get the opportunity to fully interpret their graphs.
The emphasis of these materials is to choose and use the appropriate means of displaying information to support a hypothesis.
- A series of activities based around making an argument to support a hypothesis, where data is supplied and pupils choose and use the appropriate means to present the data.
4. Interpreting and Discussing Results
Setting up a model and using the processing power of the computer necessitates particular skills in interpreting and evaluating the output. Some of the skills required include:
- determining whether the output is in an appropriate and useful form
- interpreting the meaning of the output in terms of the situation being modelled
- looking for patterns and correlations (E.g. in a spreadsheet) and evaluating their significance
- drawing conclusions and constructing convincing general statements
- being aware of the strength or weakness of empirical evidence gathered when using ICT.
The problems in this area are based around interpreting and discussing results but will also involve the use of other process skills.
- The graphics featured appeared in a newspaper in an attempt to show the impact that an injury to Steven Gerrard would have on Liverpool FC’s results.
- This single activity uses the ‘hide and reveal’ technique to explore the interpretation of scatter graphs, and to encourage pupils to write explanations of the relationships shown.
- This activity helps pupils to be able to interpret a graph like this and place road signs at various points where they think the changes in speed suggest a driver has changed behaviour.