7.2.1 Mean, median and mode

The mean, median and mode are all types of average and are typical of the data they represent. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and can be used in different situations, but they all give us an idea of the general size of the values involved. Here we provide brief definitions, and some idea of when each should be used.

The following set of data i
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Charts, graphs and tables are all very helpful ways of representing a set of data. However, they are not the only ways of passing on information about data. This section looks at how you can analyse a set of data to summarise the given information as briefly and simply as possible.

Essentially, there are two features of a set of data that enable summarising: the average and the spread. This section starts by looking at what is meant by ‘average’. If you have already studied OpenL
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1 Getting the most from charts, graphs and tables

Do you sometimes feel confused about how to create a chart, graph or table?

Are you not always sure which of these to choose to illustrate your set of data?

Why do we produce charts, graphs and tables anyway?

Spend a few minutes writing down what you think are the reasons why we choose to present data in this way before you read on.

One student has said:

If an exam or assessment question ask
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Local colleges and schools

The local newspaper is a source of reference here, or your local library. Alternatively, most schools and colleges nowadays have evening or daytime courses that are open to adult learners. Many of them will have an advice point, so that you can telephone or drop in to discuss what you are looking for. Many will have an open-learning centre where self-assessment tests and open-learning materials are available.

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6 Technical glossary

This glossary is intended to provide a basic explanation of how a number of common mathematical terms are used. Definitions can be very slippery and confusing, and at worst can replace one difficult term with a large number of other difficult terms. Therefore, where an easy definition is available it is provided here, where this has not been possible an example is used. If you require more detailed or complete definitions, you should refer to one of the very good mathematical dictionaries tha
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4.8.3 Mode

The mode, or modal value, is the most popular value in a set of numbers, the one that occurs most often. However, it is not always possible to give the mode as some sets of values do not have a single value that occurs more than each of the others. Like the median, the mode can help us to get a better feel for the set of values. Retailers find the mode useful when they want to know which item to restock first.

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4.2 Interpreting percentages

Many articles give information in the form of percentages. In such articles, tables and other numerical information are also often presented in terms of percentages. Percentages are used so often because they enable comparisons to be made more easily. Every percentage is expressing a value as a fraction (that is, as a proportion) of a hundred. ‘Percent’ is denoted by % and means ‘out of a hundred’, so 75% means 75 out of 100.

Look at the table in the article in Activity 6. It co
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1 Your worries and concerns with charts, graphs and tables

Do you sometimes feel that you do not fully understand the way that numbers are presented in course materials, newspaper articles and other published material?

What do you consider are your main worries and concerns about your ability to understand and interpret graphs, charts and tables?

Spend a few minutes writing these down before you read on.

One student has said:

I am never quite sure that I
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit:

• you will learn how to reflect on your mathematical history and existing skills, set up strategies to cope with mathematics and assess which areas need improving;

• through instruction, worked examples and practice activities, you will gain an understanding of the following mathematical concepts:

• reflecting on mathematics,

• reading articles for mathematical information,

• making sense of data,

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Courses use computers for a variety of different reasons. These are a few examples.

• To let you explore ideas and concepts in more depth, such as by using a multimedia CD-ROM or DVD with interactive exercises.

• To help you communicate with others on your course. Online conferences offer a way to contact other students and staff for information, discussion and mutual support.

• To allow you to analyse data, see pictures or
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3.1.1 Option 1: Don't use the diagram at all

Activity 9

It is quite possible to write a good answer to the question without using the diagram. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of not using the diagram?

Author(s): The Open UniversityLicense informationRelated contentExcept for third party materials and/or otherwise stated (see terms and conditions) the content in OpenLearn is released for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share

So far in this unit we have been looking at how you can improve your understanding of other people's texts and diagrams. I have shown you some study techniques that you can use to ‘translate’ text into diagrams and diagrams into meaningful text. However, this discussion has been focused on what you can do for yourself. At some point, you'll have to produce assignments that require, or will be enhanced by, the use of diagrams. One of the first decisions you'll face is whether to use an exi
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The material below is part of an extract (chapter 4 pages pp. 101–142 and pp. 265–268) adapted for OpenLearn and contained in The Arts Good Study Guide, by Ellie Chambers and Andrew Northedge from The Open University. Copyright © The Open University, 2005. The Arts Study Guide forms part of the study material for The Open University course A103 An Introduction to the Humanities and has been designed to be used with other Open University courses.

Except for third party mater
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Haggar, R.G. (ed.) (1962) A Dictionary of Art Terms, London, Oldbourne.

Hall, J. (ed.) (1979) Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, London, John Murray.

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Social scientists collect evidence to support their claims and theories in different ways. Such evidence is crucial to the practice of social science and to the production of social scientific knowledge.

You may be aware of the idea of active reading, which is about reading with the aim of understanding and grasping something: a definition, an argument, a piece of evidence. What that suggests is that active reading is about reading and thinking at the same time. In
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Map 1 The Millennium Dome in Greenwich, one of 56,000 photographs taken for the Millennium Map – 2000's answer to the Domesday Book (Source: The Guardian,
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The auditory system is able to process sounds in such a way that, although several may be present simultaneously, it is possible to focus upon the message of interest. However, in experiments on auditory attention, there have been contradictory results concerning the fate of the unattended material:

• The auditory system processes mixed sounds in such a way that it is possible to focus upon a single wanted message.

• Unattended material a
Author(s): The Open University

The relevance of psychology to everyday concerns, and the ease with which it can be popularised and used, mean that psychological knowledge – some of it dubious, some of it accurate – is continually absorbed into culture and often incorporated into the very language we use. Examples of psychological concepts that have entered popular discourse include the notion that we are predisposed, both through evolution and through the functioning of our brains and nervous systems, to behave in cert
Author(s): The Open University

Bush T. and Middlewood D. (1997) Managing People in Education, Paul Chapman, London, p. 172.
The Education (School Teacher Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2000
DfES/Ofsted 2005, A New Relationship with Schools: Next Steps.

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Monitoring means gathering evidence to show what progress has been made towards strategic priorities and targets and the implementation of policies.

Evaluation means making judgements about the results.

DfES 2003, National Training Programme for New Governors, Module 2, p. 4.

Monitoring is a key aspect of governors' remit; it is necessary so that governing bodies can carry out their strat
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