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Implications of the data revolution for statistics education

Ridgway, Jim

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There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in statistics. Emerging data sources provide new sorts of evidence, provoke new sorts of questions, make possible new sorts of answers and shape the ways that evidence is used to influence policy, public opinion and business practices. Significant developments include open data, big data, data visualisation and the rise of data-driven journalism. These developments are changing the nature of the evidence that is available, the ways in which it is presented and used and the skills needed for its interpretation. Educators should place less emphasis on small samples and linear models and more emphasis on large samples, multivariate description and data visualisation. Techniques used to analyse big data need to be taught. The increasing diversity of data usage requires deeper conceptual analysis in the curriculum; this should include explorations of the functions of modelling, and the politics of data and ethics. The data revolution can invigorate the existing curriculum by exemplifying the perils of biassed sampling, corruption of measures and modelling failures. Students need to learn to think statistically and to develop an aesthetic for data handling and modelling based on solving practical problems.


Ridgway, J. (2016). Implications of the data revolution for statistics education. International Statistical Review, 84(3), 528-549.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 9, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 29, 2015
Publication Date Dec 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 9, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 29, 2015
Journal International Statistical Review
Print ISSN 0306-7734
Electronic ISSN 1751-5823
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 84
Issue 3
Pages 528-549
Keywords Statistics education, Modelling, Open data, Big data, Visualisation, Data-driven journalism, Curriculum, Statistical literacy, Change.


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (907 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version © 2015 The Authors. International Statistical Review published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Statistical Institute. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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