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Plenary Session 2. Preparing for Diversity in Statistics Literacy: Implications for Statistical Institutions, Researchers, and Educators

Keynote Speakers

Scott Murray (Canada)
Iddo Gal (Israel)

Plenary Session Abstract

The importance of enabling citizens and consumers from all walks of life to function effectively in an information-laden and statistics-rich society raises various needs and responsibilities. We argue that the interest in "statistics literacy" should not be limited to those who teach any statistics (e.g., in educational institutions, in industry, in adult education programs) or who are interested in reforming statistics education at various levels. Statistics literacy is also the responsibility of various producers or reporters of statistical information (e.g., central bureaus of statistics, research organizations in various public and private sectors, the media).

This talk will address four needs that should be recognized by the various producers or reporters of statistical information:

1. The need to understand individual or group differences in statistics literacy, i.e., the distribution of skills (and supporting beliefs and attitudes) that enable people to comprehend and critically evaluate common statistical and probabilistic messages or information.

2. The need to understand the relative difficulty of statistics-related tasks, and the relative complexity of different types of statistical or probabilistic messages or informations.

3. The need to understand the information needs of different population groups or different target audiences that may be exposed to or be consumers of statistical information.

4. The need to prepare different types of communicative products (e.g., research briefs, executive summaries, media releases) and formulate strategies for their dissemination. In light of the first three needs, such products and strategies need to acknowledge the information needs and differential skills of potential target audiences, and respect the relative complexity of different types of messages.

During the talk, the above four needs will be described and supported with illustrative examples. Implications will be discussed in relation to statistical institutions as well as researchers. The need for collaboration between the various stakeholders in statistics literacy, i.e., producers, educators, researchers, and consumers, will be emphasized.


Keynote Speaker Biography

Scott Murray

Scott Murray was recently appointed to the post of Director General, Social and Institutional Statistics after spending roughly 23 years in the Special Surveys Division at Statistics Canada.  Mr. Murray specialized in the design and conduct of large-scale ad hoc surveys to meet emerging public policy issues.  His own work has included studies of volunteer international comparative work, child care usage, longitudinal labor market activity and the assessment of adult skill.  Mr. Murray holds an Honors BA in Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario and is overly fond of claret.

Scott Murray a récemment été nommé au poste de directeur général de la statistique sociale et des institutions après avoir passé environ 23 ans à la Division des enquêtes spéciales de Statistique Canada. M. Murray s’est spécialisé dans la conception et la réalisation d’enquêtes spéciales à grande échelle visant à répondre aux nouvelles questions d’ordre public. Il a notamment effectué des études comparatives internationales sur le travail bénévole, l’utilisation des services de garde d’enfants, l’activité sur le marché du travail dans une perspective longitudinale et l’évaluation de l’alphabétisation des adultes. Grand admirateur du bordeaux rouge, M. Murray est titulaire d’un B.A. avec spécialisation en administration des affaires de la University of Western Ontario.

T. Scott Murray,
Director General
Institutions and Social Statistics Branch
Statistics Canada
17-A, RH Coats Building, Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6
Tel: 613-951-9035
Fax: 613-951-9040

Iddo Gal

Iddo Gal teaches at the Department of Human Services, University of Haifa, Israel, and is a Senior Research Advisor, International Literacy Institute, University of Pennsylvania. His research has involved problems with readability of informational materials distributed by human service organizations, adult learning, and development and assessment of numeracy and statistical reasoning skills. He edited Adult Numeracy development: Theory, Research, Practice (Hampton Press, 2000) and co-edited with Joan Garfield The Assessment Challenge In Statistics Education International Statistical Institute, 1997). Presently he leads the team developing the numeracy assessment component of the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills survey.

Dr. Iddo Gal
Department of Human Services
Eshkol Tower, Room 718
University of Haifa
Haifa 31905, ISRAEL

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