What is statistics?

Statistics is not a branch of mathematics, but a mathematical science. It is sometimes described as the science of data. This begs the question: What are data? Data can be defined as numbers in context. So, for example, the numbers 35, 60, 50, 55, 48, 74, 67 are not themselves data, but if you know that they are the ages of a group of people, or the heights of a group of people, or the scores in games played by a certain basketball team, or the hours that a collection of light bulbs works before burning out, then they become data. The context brings the possibility of interpretation of the numbers.

Here are some more detailed answers to this question:

How does this course address the Texas State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) Standards for Secondary Math Teachers?

Standards II (Patterns and Algebra), IV (Probability and Statistics), and V (Mathematical Processes) of the SBEC Secondary Math Standards include the following standards regarding the content of M 358K:

"The beginning teacher of mathematics is able to:

How does this course relate to the Texas Essential Elements for secondary mathematics?

How does this course relate to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Principles and Standards for School Mathematics?

The Principles and Standards include Data Analysis and Probability as one of their five content strands running through all grade levels. This strand includes statistics.

I didn't have much statistics in elementary, middle, or high school. Have things changed recently?

Yes, things have changed quite a lot recently. Statistics has increasingly become important in our modern world, for studying topics as diverse as the environment, medicine, the stock market, and technological innovations. In addition, modern software has made it easier to learn and do statistics. For a number of years, there has been a movement to include statistics in the curriculum. Statistics topics have been included in textbooks and curricula, especially in the middle grades, for quite a few years, but teachers have rarely covered the statistics topics, partly because they weren't familiar with the topics themselves. However, as new standards have been developed, there has been more progress in including statistics in what is actually taught. One big development was the start of Advanced Placement Statistics in 1998. The course has been growing steadily in popularity, and will probably continue to grow in enrollments, especially since many medical schools are now accepting statistics instead of calculus.

To help prepare UT's future math teachers to teach the statistics in the Texas school curriculum, the Department of Mathematics in 1998 started offering M358K: Applied Statistics, and this course became a required course for students seeking secondary certification in mathematics.

M358K is designed to include the topics (except those in the prerequisite course, M362K: Probability I) included in the AP Statistics syllabus, but M358K studies these topics in greater depth than they are studied in the AP Statistics course.

M358K has proved to be a good course for many other students besides those planning to be teachers, so it is not a "teachers only" course. This web page is designed to help supplement the course for future teachers and show how it is important for their background.

For more information on statistics in grades K - 12, see the above links to the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and the online article, "Statistics and Its Interface with the Secondary Mathematics Curriculum", by Gail Burrill, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. See also the MISD/MMSTC Statistical DOE Project for a description of a course "Data Analysis and Research Methods" currently being taught to 9th graders at three magnet schools for mathematics, science and technology in Macomb County, Michigan.

What is the role of technology in this course?

In M 358K, you will be expected to use technology in creating graphs and statistical analyses. You will be given instructions in using Minitab statistical software to do this, but many things can also be done by using suitable calculators (such as the TI-83), Fathom (which you used in M 315C), or Excel. There are also lots of interesting web sites that can be helpful in learning statistics. Here are some:

How does this course relate to other courses I will be taking?

How can I get the most out of this course?