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Statistical Association Teams With New York Times on Data Literacy Feature

By / Sep 7, 2017 (Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images Plus)

American Statistical Association members will assist the newspaper in publishing a new monthly feature for students called “What’s Going On in This Graph?” It was inspired by an ASA member who did something similar in her own classroom.

How’s your data literacy these days? If it’s not so hot, a new feature in The New York Times might help you.

This week, the American Statistical Association (ASA) announced a new collaboration with the paper on a monthly feature they call “What’s Going On in This Graph?” It’s designed for K–12 students, but the column might even be a good resource for adults to check out.

Inspired by the Times‘ popular series “What’s Going On in This Picture?” the column will show off a variety of the newspaper’s infographics, with the goal of encouraging critical thinking about the information being displayed. It’s an opportunity to help people better understand statistics and the ways that data can be visualized, says ASA President Barry D. Nussbaum.

“We hear from countless teachers that reaching today’s students, who are inundated with data at any given moment, requires outside-the-box thinking. We also know that students learn best through dynamic and hands-on application, rather than simple recitation,” Nussbaum said in a news release. “This project brings statistics to life through a creative, intriguing delivery that is certain to increase awareness and excitement for statistics and data science throughout the K–12 community.”

A team of ASA members will select the infographics and coordinate interactive elements of the column, including live discussion on the day the column is published. The effort will be led by ASA member Sharon Hessney, who works as a math teacher and has used Times infographics in a similar way in her own classroom.

“For years while teaching math, I have started my day with a cup of coffee and The New York Times, and very frequently, my eye caught an excellent graph, map, or chart,” Hessney said in the release. “In math class, I would project the item on the board and ask, ‘So, what’s going on in this graph?’ It was a great class starter, and as a result, we covered so many timely topics and learned how to ‘read’ graphs.”

The column starts September 19 and will continue every second Tuesday during the school year.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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