Unit 1: Exploring Data

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Here are some important threads that connect the concepts in this unit to those in other units of the course. It will be important to stress these connections as they arise and foreshadow what is to come, so students can better understand how each unit relates to one another and the big picture of statistics.

Exploratory Data Analysis
  • This unit introduces statistics as a science of data. It is important that students first develop research questions pertaining to their data and then organize the data appropriately to answer those questions. If students lose sight of what they are trying to answer, they will not be able to effectively interpret and communicate their findings from the data.

  • Every analysis should begin with basic numerical and graphical summaries as described in this unit. This avoids applying the wrong procedure later in the course and also will be used to check underlying assumptions for these procedures.
Comparing Groups
  • In this unit, students will be introduced to the idea of comparing features and patterns between multiple groups – using simple numerical and graphical summaries – in order to examine whether a difference between the groups might exist.

  • Comparing groups will be a theme throughout the course, as students will be introduced to many other ways of comparing groups in the probability and inference units of the course.

  • A major question in statistics is: “Is the observed difference due to chance?” Remind students that while the tools they learn in this unit will help them make conjectures about the differences and similarities between groups, they will eventually learn more concrete and formal methods to determine whether a difference between two groups is real.