Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Statistics in Geography in the UK

Out workshop at the GA Conference for the I-USE project was aimed at developing teachers' ability in statistical literacy through the use of the I-USE website.

Statistics were in many geographers's minds last week, when the new GCSE Subject Content guidance for Geography was released. This included a range of new guidance on fieldwork in Geography.

Appendix: Use of mathematics and statistics in geography 

The list below outlines the range and extent of mathematical and statistical techniques considered appropriate to geography GCSE. The following should all be covered in any specification.

Examples in bold are to aid understanding and suggest range, and these are not compulsory. 

Cartographic skills 
 use and understand gradient, contour and spot height on OS maps and other isoline maps (e.g. weather charts, ocean bathymetric charts) 
 interpret cross sections and transects
 use and understand coordinates, scale and distance
 describe and interpret geo-spatial data presented in a GIS framework (e.g. analysis of flood hazard using the interactive maps on the Environment Agency website)

Graphical skills 
 select and construct appropriate graphs and charts to present data, using appropriate scales and including bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, line charts, histograms with equal class intervals
 interpret and extract information from different types of graphs and charts including any of the above and others relevant to the topic (e.g. triangular graphs, radial graphs, wind rose diagrams, proportional symbols) 
 interpret population pyramids, choropleth maps and flow-line maps

Numerical skills 
 demonstrate an understanding of number, area and scale and the quantitative relationships between units
 design fieldwork data collection sheets and collect data with an understanding of accuracy, sample size and procedures, control groups and reliability
 understand and correctly use proportion and ratio, magnitude and frequency (e.g. 1:200 flood; and logarithmic scales such as the Richter scale, in orders of magnitude) 
 draw informed conclusions from numerical data

Statistical skills 
 use appropriate measures of central tendency, spread and cumulative frequency (median, mean, range, quartiles and inter-quartile range, mode and modal class)
 calculate percentage increase or decrease and understand the use of percentiles
 describe relationships in bivariate data: sketch trend lines through scatter plots; draw estimated lines of best fit; make predictions; interpolate and extrapolate trends
 be able to identify weaknesses in selective statistical presentation of data

One of the outcomes from the Geographical Association partner, via Alan Parkinson, will be to ensure that the I-USE website is linked with these outcomes, so that the use of the website will enable GCSE Geographers to cover these.

This will only form a small part of the overall work on the I-USE project, as we have broader aims to support teachers in a range of curriculum subjects, in a number of European locations. 

Follow us on Twitter @StatsinEdu for more details

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