Rancho Cucamonga High School
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Noblesville High School
Lawrence Free State High School
Capistrano Valley High School
Mission Viejo, California
Text Messaging: Communication in the Twenty-First Century
Communication and statistics
Quality written communication is a fundamental requirement for statistics education. According to the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Report: A Pre-K–12 Curriculum Framework (available on the GAISE Reports page at the American Statistical Association website):
A major objective of statistics education is to help students develop statistical thinking. Statistical thinking, in large part, must deal with this omnipresence of variability; statistical problem solving and decision making depend on understanding, explaining, and quantifying the variability in the data.
The AP Statistics Course Description also cautions:
Statistics is a discipline in which clear and complete communication is an essential skill. The free-response questions on the AP Statistics Exam require students to use their analytical, organizational, and communication skills to formulate cogent answers.
AP Statistics Exam Readers (assessors who score the free-response section) know first-hand how easy it is to evaluate answers to free-response questions when students clearly communicate their statistical knowledge. By the same token, it is very difficult to give credit to students who do not clearly state what they know. Some of the common communication mistakes students make include:
- Lack of “control” (precision of ideas through language)
- Not answering or addressing the question that was posed
- Writing too much
- Writing too little
- Using incorrect vocabulary
- Using vocabulary incorrectly
About this lesson
The survey questions in this lesson are designed to reinforce good communication skills as the students conduct an exploratory data analysis. Specifically, the survey questions consist of a collection of fundamental questions about text-messaging data. These questions can be explored using either the smaller data set (below) or the comprehensive data set (supplied as an Excel file), and can be used in a variety of ways.
- Use the lesson as an extra assignment to review for the chapter/unit test on exploratory data analysis.
- Assign it as a review activity prior to the first-semester final exam.
- Assign it as a review activity for the AP Statistics Exam.
As a computer software activity:
- Use it as a computer lab activity using Fathom, JMP, Minitab, or other statistical software (specific software directions are not included, so prior experience is necessary).
As a cooperative group activity:
- Assign the activity for cooperative groups of students to discuss and complete, but require each student to write clear explanations on his or her own paper.
- Teachers can assess one randomly selected paper or collect all student papers, whichever strategy is appropriate.
As an in-class activity:
- Teachers can use the accompanying survey question sheet (.pdf/ K)and thumb-measuring sheet (.pdf/ K) to collect their own data on text messaging with their own students.
As plans for a substitute:
- Since these questions focus on material typically taught at the beginning of the school year, this lesson can be used anytime during the year as a self-contained activity that students could complete with a substitute teacher.
- Exploratory data analysis:
- Constructing and interpreting box plots, histograms, dot plots, etc.
- Describing distributions of data in context
- Comparing distributions of data in context
- Exploratory data analysis
- Comparing categorical variables
- Independence between categorical variables
- Foreshadowing of later topics: statistical inference, interaction between variables, matched-pairs data, confounding variables, chi-square test
- Thinking and communicating about data/distributions
- Reasoning with data and statistics
- Clear written communication
- Clear oral communication (if discussed in class)
- Use of technology to analyze data (optional)
Resources for more information about this topic
Two very good and readable online sources for information about telegraphy and the Morse code, including some interesting history, are:
- Wikipedia article: Telegraphy: Electric telegraphs
- Wikipedia article: Morse code
Text Messaging Student Assignment
Text Messaging Student Assignment Solutions
Text Messaging Thumb Template
Text Messaging Survey and Directions