After studying this course, you should be able to:

• reflect on the reasons for needing to improve skills in using charts, graphs and tables

• understand the following mathematical concepts and how to use them, through instruction, worked examples and practice activities: reflecting on mathematics; tables; line graphs; bar charts and histograms; pie charts; analysis

• draw on a technical glossary, plus a a list of references to further reading and sources
Author(s): The Open University

This is a telephone line that was set up in the middle of 1998, to help adults to find out about local provision. The number is 0800 100 900. Lines are open 08.00. to 22.00 everyday. Calls are free and you can ring as many times as you like. There is also a comprehensive website at www.learndirect.co.uk.

Author(s): The Open University

We have now looked at a number of different graphs and charts, all of which were potentially misleading. We hope that from now on if you have to work with a graph or a chart, you will always consider the following points:

• look carefully at any horizontal or vertical scale that is given;

• consider each graph or chart separately, don't compare them unless you are sure that they have the same scales;

• if it is not easy to
Author(s): The Open University

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
Author(s): The Open University

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,Â 1,Â 2,Â 5,Â 8,Â 10,Â 12,Â 15,Â 24This set of nine values is arranged in ascending order and the median is 8.
32,Â 25
Author(s): The Open University

We can use a number of different ways to indicate change â€“ fractions, decimals, and percentages tend to be the ones with which many of us are familiar.

## Activity 11

Which of these represents the greater proporti
Author(s): The Open University

These are probably the graphs that you will be most used to seeing on an everyday basis. Line graphs are most suitable when you are just comparing one value as it changes with another value. They are less suitable when you want to look at several things at once; for example to study changes in oil prices and supermarket profits on petrol sales, the scales on the left-hand and right-hand sides of a graph would have to be different, and this can be very misleading (there is an example of this i
Author(s): The Open University

Histograms are a special form of bar chart in which the bars usually touch each other because histograms always show data collected into â€˜groupsâ€™ along a continuous scale. They tend to be used when it's hard to see patterns in data, for example when there are only a few variables, or the actual amounts are spread over a wide range. For example, suppose you manufactured biscuits; it is important to manufacture closely to a given size, as there are regulations governing the sales of biscuit
Author(s): The Open University

A pie chart is a diagram in the form of a circle, with proportions of the circle clearly marked. A pie chart is a good method of representation if we wish to compare a part of a group with the whole group. It gives an immediate idea of the relative sizes of the shares. So, for example, it can be used to consider advertising income. It can also be used to look at, say, shares of market for different brands, or different types of sandwiches sold by a store.

Author(s): The Open University

Some of the sentences we have looked at are harder to understand than they might be because they are not very well punctuated. Punctuation marks are the â€˜stopsâ€™ in a sentence that divide it up into parts. They make it easier to follow the meaning of the words. For instance, it is easier to read this sentence of Philip's if we put a comma after â€˜wealthyâ€™:

With society becoming more wealthy, it was possible for t
Author(s): The Open University

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
Author(s): The Open University

After studying this course, you should be able to:

• reflect on existing skills and mathematical history, set up strategies to cope with mathematics and assess which areas need improving

• understand the following mathematical concepts, through instruction, worked examples and practice activities: reflecting on mathematics; reading articles for mathematical information; making sense of data; interpreting graphs and charts

• draw on a technical glossary, p
Author(s): The Open University

Now we will look at the way Philip and Hansa wrote and presented their essays. Did you find them both easy to read? As regards Philip's, my answer is, â€˜yes and noâ€™. It is sometimes easy because he has a fluent way with words. But it is often difficult because he does not use enough punctuation to help us make sense of his words, and because of certain mistakes he makes. I found Hansa's essay easier to read. Her writing is more technically correct and more assured than Philip's. But
Author(s): The Open University

The aim of this course has been to try to draw together work on numbers and text, and to try to be helpful to those who, like me, find numbers and statistics rather unapproachable. Evidence is used in social science to convince us of the value of a claim, and is a crucial element in our evaluation of theoretical perspectives.

• We can learn to use writing of all sorts as evidence by practising how to interpret it and by becoming aware of the conventions attached to its primary purpose for example as personal testimony, journalism, commercially produced material, such as market research and academic writing as well as material produced specifically through research such as interview data.

• When approaching a piece of writing:

• Author(s): The Open University

Social scientists use particular methods to gather qualitative evidence, from observation to interview, but they also use autobiographical accounts, journalism, and other documentary material to flesh out and add meaning to statistics.

As with reading numbers, reading textual evidence requires us to practise, to set time aside to learn how to do it, and to understand the conventions of writing which operate in the different forms of writing we encounter. One of the main pr
Author(s): The Open University

Examine in more detail the explanations surrounding the numbers or diagram. Check the small print to make sure you aren't drawing the wrong conclusions. Are the axes of diagrams clearly labelled, and do you understand what they mean? (Axes, pronounced â€˜axeaseâ€™ is the plural of axis. Axes are the vertical and horizontal lines against which lines on a graph or bars on a chart are plotted. They must be labelled to tell you what courses you are counting in.) If there is shading on the
Author(s): The Open University

It's easy to be distracted by the surface appearance of a diagram, but we are really interested in the underlying message. This is rather like the distinction made between the content and context reading of photographs. Once you are sure that you know what the main heading means, focus on a particular element and think it through. If it is a bar chart, for instance, pick on one of the bars and tell yourself what it represents, what it is telling you. Is it showing a percentage or a total? Wha
Author(s): The Open University

Having established roughly what we are looking at when we see a table of numbers or a diagram, how do we read it systematically? It may be best to think of this as a process with several stages.

Author(s): The Open University

Although we live in a society where a huge amount of information is available in the form of numbers, some of us still feel a mental fog descend when we are asked to deal with them. This is because numerical information is information in a very condensed and abstract form. A number on its own means very little. You have to learn to read it. Numeracy (the ability to work with numbers) is a skill that we can learn. It is a very useful skill, because it allows us to understand very quickly the <
Author(s): The Open University