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Statistical Literacy

Statistical Literacy
A Beginner's Guide

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April 2024 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

In an increasingly data-centric world, we all need to know how to read and interpret statistics. But where do we begin?

This book breaks statistical terms and concepts down in a clear, straightforward way. From understanding what data are telling you to exploring the value of good storytelling with numbers, it equips you with the information and skills you need to become statistically literate.

It also:

  • Dispels misconceptions about the nature of statistics to help you avoid common traps.
  • Helps you put your learning into practice with over 60 Tasks and Develop Your Skills activities.
  • Draws on real-world research to demonstrate the messiness of data – and show you a path through it.

Approachable and down to earth, this guide is aimed at undergraduates across the social sciences, psychology, business and beyond who want to engage confidently with quantitative methods or statistics. It forms a reassuring aid for anyone looking to understand the foundations of statistics before their course advances, or as a refresher on key content.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Building a foundation
Chapter 3: Polls and surveys
Chapter 4: Introduction to categorising and visualising data
Chapter 5: The language of statistics and statistical inference
Chapter 6: An introduction to data stories
Chapter 7: Media reports and social media platforms
Chapter 8: Experiments and observational methods in research
Chapter 9 How to read journals with quantitative data
Chapter 10: Telling stories with descriptive data, tables, and graphs
Chapter 11: Common misconceptions in statistics and statistical literacy
Chapter 12: Statistics communicated badly
Chapter 13: The power of statistical literacy and statistical reasoning


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For Students 

Test yourself with case studies and exercises that help you put your learning into practice by analysing and evaluating examples and answering reflective questions. Each case study comes with answers and guidance so you can check you’re on the right track.

Practice your new data skills on the datasets discussed in the book. These are particularly relevant for Chapters 4 and 5.

Weblinks to the real-world examples of data use (and misuse!) covered in the book mean you can easily follow along with the author’s discussion.

Use multiple-choice questions to check your understanding and get a sense of where you’re confident and where you might need to go over a topic again. Answers to all the questions are provided for you.

Prof. Rhys Jones has done a marvellous job of clearly and convincingly making the case for statistical literacy. Furthermore, he provides a systematic method for achieving this in the chapters of the book, addressing in an integrative way, many diverse issues previously covered in other statistical books. The emphasis on education, research and communication makes this book a very useful resource for a wide range of audiences, producers and consumers of statistics alike.

Tuan Yu
Lecturer, University of Kent

Rhys C. Jones

Rhys, Professor of Statistical Literacy, is an internationally recognised educational leader with extensive experience in curriculum development and curriculum theory, statistics education, and engaging students in small and large classroom settings (offline and online). He also has extensive experience of using digital literacy skills and learning analytics to enhance the student experience, using digital platforms to assess student engagement and interaction.Rhys is a member of the Royal Statistical Society teaching section, as well as the Education Policy Advisory Group. Both committees work on a National and international level to... More About Author

For instructors