Scientific Program >
Topic 1. Statistics Literacy

Topic Convenor(s)

Brian Phillips (Australia)
Iddo Gal (Israel)

Topic Abstract

Overall introduction
 (This abstract can be downloaded at the bottom of this page)   

There are many questions involving statistical thinking which confront people when they are at work, handling household affairs, reading a newspaper or watching TV, or in leisure. Some examples are: How does investing on the stock market compare with gambling? How should we interpret news stories about the latest health research findings? Is it wise to bet on the underdog? How can we interpret reports involving tables and graphs? How can we know when statistics are being misused or abused in the media or in advertisements? Such and related questions face people from all walks of life, whether or not they have had any formal education in statistics.

The term "statistics literacy" does not have a single accepted meaning, but in general refers to people's ability and propensity to interpret, critically evaluate, and communicate about statistical information, data-related claims, or chance-related phenomena which they may encounter in diverse life contexts. In many societies or communities citizens are increasingly being expected (or declare their right) to be informed and act as critical consumers of statistical and probabilistic information. To that effect, some level of statistics literacy may be desirable not only from all school or university graduates, but also of all adults, regardless of their educational and personal backgrounds.

As the conference theme for ICOTS-6 is "Developing a Statistically Literate Society", in addition to keynote presentations focused on statistics literacy, two sessions are envisioned under Topic 1:

Back to top

Session 1A:  Frameworks and Studies in Statistics Literacy
(SO: Iddo Gal)

This session includes two types of presentations. Some talks address the conceptualization of statistics literacy, examine the relevance of statistics literacy for the average citizen, outline requirements from citizens, and address the roles that education systems, governmental agencies, the media, and non-formal education systems may have for promoting statistics literacy. Other presentations report findings describing people's statistics literacy skills (as opposed to formal knowledge in statistics), suggest research agendas, and discuss educational and policy implications of such research.

Session 1B:  Statistics for the Citizen
(SO:  Brian Phillips)

Presentations in this session discuss the role of statistics in a number of everyday contexts. The approach will be non-technical and suitable for a non-specialist audience (teachers, policy makers, administrators, journalists, health professionals, and people from the general population) who would like to learn how to make better use of and critically interpret probability and statistical information and messages they may encounter in everyday or work settings in which chance, risk, and data are involved, such as genetic counseling, games of chance, or sports. Talks in this session will be different from the traditional papers given at ICOTS, and should be of interest to general audiences such as those outlined above who will be invited to join ICOTS-6 expressly for that purpose, as well as to the regular ICOTS participants (possibly for use as models for outreach activities).

Overall, we hope that the availability of keynote presentations on statistics literacy, different paper sessions pertaining to the areas envisioned under Topic 1, and the synergy between Topics in this regard, will enable ICOTS-6 to address its general theme and promote a statistically literate society. (When the final program is published, talks classified under other Topics that also pertain to statistics literacy, such as Topic 5: "Statistics and the Wider Society", will be specially marked in the ICOTS-6 program).

 For further inquiries regarding this Topic, please contact either one of the co-convenors listed below, preferably by e-mail:

Brian Phillips:
School of Mathematical Sciences
Swinburne University of Technology, PO Box 218, Hawthorn 3122, AUSTRALIA
Fax: +61-3-9819-0821.

Iddo Gal:
Department of Human Services, University of Haifa, Eshkol Tower, Room 718, Haifa 31905, ISRAEL
Fax:  +972-4-824-9282.


Session 1A

Frameworks and Studies in Statistics Literacy

Iddo Gal (Israel)

Session 1B

Statistics for the Citizen

Brian Phillips (Australia)

Topic 1: Topic Abstract
Download in WORD format. (36KB)
Download in Adobe Acrobat format (PDF).

Back to top

ICOTS-6, The Sixth International Conference on Teaching Statistics - International Program Committee (IPC) Website.
Copyright © 2001 by the IASE. All rights reserved. This information is subject to change without notice. This page was last modified on July 2, 2002.
For questions or comments, contact the Webmaster, Dagan Ben-Zvi.