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4.5 Histograms

Histograms are a special form of bar chart in which the bars usually touch each other because histograms always show data collected into ‘groups’ 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
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4.3 Pie charts, bar charts, histograms and line graphs

These are all different ways of representing data and you are likely to be familiar with some, if not all of them. They usually provide a quick summary that gives you a visual image of the data being presented. Below, we have given a brief definition and some ideas of how each can be used, along with a corresponding activity. We suggest that you look out for similar examples in everyday life, and question the information that you see.


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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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Learning outcomes

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
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1.4 Conclusion

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.

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1.3.7 Summary

  • 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:


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1.3.1 What evidence are we reading?

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
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1.2.5 Stage 3: Details

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 ‘axease’ 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
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1.2.4 Stage 2: Find a way in

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
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1.2.2 Stages in reading numbers and diagrams

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.


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1.2.1 What evidence are we reading?

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 <
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this booklet.

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3 Strange words, long sentences and lost meanings

In reading for a purpose it is not unusual to get stuck on unfamiliar words and concepts or struggle with complex ideas and sentences. This section suggests tactics for coping with unfamiliar words (and inadequate dictionaries), unpacking complex sentences and retrieving lost meanings. In order to do this we will draw on an extract taken from a book, Crime and Society in Britain, by Hazel Croall (1998) which is a social science text. It thus contains more ‘conceptual’ or ‘technic
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1.1 Preparation for study

One of the main purposes of this course 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 course 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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Cannabis, Consciousness and the Imagination
We know drunk-driving causes death on the roads, but how does taking drugs like cannabis affect your driving skills? This album offers a chance to see how psychologists perform experiments which measure how much cannabis distorts a normal state of consciousness. Tracks 5-8 explore human inventiveness, pointing out that nothing in the world could have been made without the human capacity for imagination. Evolutionary anthropologists use the example of tool-making, showing that humans started to d
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Exploring Psychology
How humans think, develop, and experience the world around us has been fascinating psychologists for over 100 years. The tracks in this album cover a range of case studies, looking at factors which can influence the development of our personalities. What is the impact of significant people in our early lives? How do you go about the process of researching topics like this in social psychology? The audio tracks feature disabled people who reflect on how disability has affected their sense of ide
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4 Conclusion

This course has explored the social impact of psychology and provided a brief historical overview to explore the diversity of psychology as a discipline. You have read about the different kinds of data that are used as evidence and the different types of methods used to gather these data. You have also gained an understanding of the ethical issues that need to be considered when conducting research.

The material for this course is taken from the introductory chapter to the course DSE21
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