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 Above: Dean Mark Peceny.  His support made the idea of Statistical Literacy a reality at UNM.

Dr. Erik Erhardt led the effort to offer a statistical literacy course along-side traditional research statistics

Statistical Literacy (MATH 1330*) handout for Advisors:

* Course currently shown as MATH 1996 in current ABQ Scedule.  

StatLit TextBook



UNM Committee/Registrar Forms:

    1a  New Course Request   (Form B)

    1b  Catalog Description

    1c  Syllabus



    4a  New Course Signoff  (Form C)

    4b  Budgetary Load Implications

New Mexico Higher Education Department (NM HED)

    2a  Add Common Course Number

    2b  Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)


New Mexico Higher Education: General Education

    3a  Gen Ed: Add a Course

    3b  Assessing Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

    3c  Goals and Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

    3d  Sample Assessment




This is the text that will be used as the Statistical Literacy textbook at the University of New Mexico.  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, said, "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 reasoning, quantitative literacy 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 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). 

  • Quantitative literacy focuses much more on consumer-related topics such as reading and interpreting ratios, rates and percentages as encountered in statements, tables and graphs.

  • Statistical thinking/reasoning (producer statistical literacy) typically focuses on statistics involving distributions and variation -- specifically random variation such as that encountered in random selection or random assignment.   

All three are typically quiet on causation, confounding and study design.


Statistical Literacy (consumer-based) 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 presents a  simple 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.


2016: Augsburg Student Evaluations of STAT 102  by Schield ASA/JSM. Course Comparison: STAT102 vs STAT 101

Schield's "Statistical Literacy 2020 (very different from prior editions)

CONTENTS   For chapter overview, download both audio and 6up overview. Play audio while watching the overview.

Contents: 407 pages, 118,363 words.  588,535 characters. 
37 equations, 54 stories, 96 tables, 152 figures. Glossary 151 terms

This book was based on research findings of the W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project.
For an overview, see Isaacson's "Statistical Literacy -- Online at Capella University."
For an overview of the conceptual design, see Schield's "Statistical Literacy and Liberal Education at Augsburg College."
For a briefing on the "Take CARE" methodology, see "Take CARE"
For a review of the technical aspects, see Schield's Statistical Literacy Curriculum Design.
For a review of difficulties in reading tables and graphs, see Schield's "Statistical Literacy Survey: Reading Tables and Graphs."
For papers on teaching confounding using the new graphical technique, see:

For papers on teaching the social construction of statistics, see:

Order Status: 
The 2020 edition is being distributed by the bookstore at the Univ. of New Mexico (Albuquerque).  This edition goes with the more than 1,000 Moodle exercises that are available to teachers that use this book.

Statistical Literacy at Augsburg College: GST 200

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.

Web-based Part-Whole Drill Programs:
Videos describing: (1) the part-whole reading program,  (2) the part-whole writing program.

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 pie charts.
The most recent upgrade was to add chance/probability grammar to both programs.

Odysseys2Sense: a game of lively discourse
Odysseys (a unique web forum) is used to facilitate critical thinking.   See this under Statistical Literacy tools.  Fall 2012 Challenges
Student survey:  Spring 2013   Fall 2013.  Advice to reviewers:  References    Huemer


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