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Misunderstandings can affect the proper use of statistics and the decision-making process. Misunderstandings can occur at any stage of a statistical investigation.

Throughout each stage of a statistical investigation there are likely to be times where either inadequate understanding or a misunderstanding hinders progress.

At the beginning of an investigation, inappropriate sampling can put an entire investigation into jeopardy. Students can believe that any sample is adequate as long as the data are collected carefully. They can be unaware of the importance of sample size, the possible impact of biased sampling and the extent of the representative nature of the sample.

Graphs are a powerful way to represent data but inappropriate graphs can be misleading. It is important for students to be exposed to a number of different types of graphs, including those that are deceptive.

It is important to summarise data in a way that accurately characterises the data set. Students can choose inappropriate statistical measures and/or misunderstand the extent to which they apply.

Informal inference uses evidence from a sample to draw conclusions about a wider population. Students can misunderstand the relationship between samples and populations. They can also lack experience in judging the significance of differences between two data sets or the strength of an association.

Finally, through lack of experience with statistics and unquestioning belief in the media, students may be being misled on social issues.



Name Class Section
Document Misunderstanding samples and sampling Folder 17
Document Misleading graphs Folder 17
Document Misunderstandings of averages Folder 17
Document Difficulties with informal inference Folder 17
Document Belief in the media Folder 17