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1.1.3 Keeping the calculator running on your Windows desktop

When performing a number of calculations whilst using other programs on your computer, it's convenient to keep the calculator running in the background.

To do this click on the ‘Minimise’ button of the calculator's window (the leftmost button in the top right corner). When you are ready to start working with the calculator again, click the ‘Calculator’ button in the Windows taskbar. (The taskbar is usually at the bottom of the screen; it contains the ‘Start’ button.)


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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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Introduction

Your course might not include any maths or technical content but, at some point during your course, it’s likely that you’ll come across information represented in charts, graphs and tables. You’ll be expected to know how to interpret this information, and possibly encouraged to present your own findings in this way. This unit will help you to develop the skills you need to do this, and gain the confidence to use them.

This unit can be used in conjunction with, and builds on the Op
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Internet access

The Scottish Learning Network at www.globalweb.co.uk/sln.html is a gateway to information, guidance, assessment and on-line education and training opportunities in Scotland. At the time of writing, there is nothing similar for England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.


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7 Further reading and sources of help

Where to get more help with using and interpreting tables, graphs, percentages, and with other aspects of numerical work.


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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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5.1 Difficulties in interpretation

Graphs and charts are often used to illustrate information that is discussed in course materials or a newspaper article, so it is important to be able to interpret them correctly. Often, the authors of an article will attempt to emphasise the point they are trying to make by presenting the facts and figures in such a way as to confirm their argument. This is a commonly used journalistic approach, which means that it is essential to examine graphs and charts used to support arguments very care
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4.8.2 Median

The median is the middle value of a set of numbers arranged in ascending (or descending) order. If the set has an even number of values then the median is the mean of the two middle numbers. For example:

1, 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 24This set of nine values is arranged in ascending order and the median is 8.
32, 25, 20, 1
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4.8.1 Mean

The mean is found by adding up all the values in a set of numbers and dividing by the total number of values in the set. This is what is usually meant by the word ‘average’.

For example, if a company tests a sample of the batteries it manufactures to determine the lifetime of each battery, the mean result would be appropriate as a measure of the possible lifetime any of the batteries and could be used to promote the product.

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4.8 Mean, median and mode

Most of us are familiar with the word ‘average’. We regularly encounter statements like ‘the average temperature in May was 4 °C below normal’ or ‘underground water reserves are currently above average’. The term average is used to convey the idea of an amount, which is standard; typical of the values involved. When we are faced with a set of values, the average should help us to get a quick understanding of the general size of the values in the set. The mean, median and mode are
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2.1 Reflecting on your mathematical history

One of the obstacles that we see to understanding and working with mathematics is that people feel the need to avoid it entirely, because they feel nervous about it. Others don't feel as nervous, but may still avoid mathematical work. In practice, you may well be using more mathematical concepts than you think, as numbers are all around us; for example, when shopping, going out for a drink with friends, paying bills, or planning a budget so that you can take a holiday.

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2 Reflection on mathematics

Mathematics is a subject about which people have strong views, and these can be negative, positive, or a combination of the two. Our own experience, as tutors and students of mathematics, is that mathematics is often seen by others as something that ‘isn't for me’, and one where beliefs and feelings, especially worry and even fear, can be strong, as a result of previous unhappy experiences. We have written this section to help you to look at your mathematical background, so that you can u
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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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Introduction

Information technology is an integral part of courses. It's used to enable students to learn about their subject, contact one another, and find resources.

Using a computer for study can be useful for students on any course. For example, about a half of all Open University courses expect students to use a computer.

In this unit, you'll look at:

  • the different ways you might be asked to use a PC in your course;

  • top tips to ge
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2.2.3 Reading graphs and charts: getting started

Graphs and charts ought to be easy to read, since the main point of turning numbers into diagrams is to bring out their meaning more clearly. However, they are abstract representations that attempt to summarise certain aspects of the world in a condensed form. Consequently, they require a degree of mental effort on your part to bridge the gap between the formal pictures on the page and the aspects of ‘reality’ they represent. It is important to approach graphs and diagrams caref
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3.2 Answering the question

An essay can be good in almost every other way and yet be judged poor because it ignores the question in the title. Strictly speaking, I should say ‘it ignores the issues presented in the title’ because not every essay title actually contains a question. But, in fact, there is usually a central question underlying an essay title, even when it takes the form of a quotation from a text followed by the instruction ‘Discuss’. And you need to work out what that underlying question is, beca
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2.5.1 Sentences

We can see that Philip knows what a sentence is because he writes some perfectly good ones. For example:

In many ways going into urban life from the countryside was beneficial to woman of the upperclass.

This sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. It has a subject (urban life) and a main verb (was). As any sentence is, it is a self-contained ‘unit of meaning’. It m
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1.1 Preparation for study

One of the main purposes of this unit is to help you develop two kinds of skills:

  • the general skills of being a student

  • some skills which are particularly associated with the way social scientists work.

Both are of fundamental importance to your success in studying other courses. This unit is about the very basic study skills of reading and taking notes. These are basic in the sense that they are the foundation for al
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5 Further reading

Claridge, G. (1985) Origins of Mental Illness: Temperament, Deviance and Disorder, Oxford, Blackwell.

A classic text on ‘abnormal’ psychology.

Faludy, T. and Faludy, A. (1996) A Little Edge of Darkness: A Boy's Triumph Over Dyslexia, London, Jessica Kingsley.

This is the personal account written by Alexander Faludy and his mother, Tanya, of their experiences of understanding and managing Alexander's dyslexia.

Miles, T.R. and Miles, E. (1999) Dyslex
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