Statistics in the new A Level - what we've learned
We recently attended the A Level Statistics Conference in Manchester. It was great to meet with Maths teachers from across the UK and discuss what we had been learning from creating exam-style questions for the new spec. There were two main revelations for us at the conference which we wanted to share, which will affect how we teach and prepare students for their summer exams. Here it is!
The dataset can pop up anywhere
From discussions at the conference and from investigating the material from each exam board, it is clear that there is no telling which questions and topics will be about the large data set. Students will need to be able to answer questions about the dataset in any topic and be prepared that each topic might be a mixture of data set and new material in the exam.
What does this mean for us? This means that it is vital students practice topics throughout the year with a mixture of dataset and non-dataset questions! We've structured all our stats worksheets to include both types of question to make sure you as teachers have all you need to prepare your students for that uncertainty.
Common sense and a bit of general knowledge are now tested
Statistics has taken a bit of a turn into the real world. No more are there extremely theoretical or vaguely contextualised questions. The dataset has had a great affect of ensuring students have to think about the context the data sits in. Questions now require students to apply streetsmarts; to apply common sense to data-sampling and manipulation.
Let's take an example of sampling cars on the road in the UK. Students have to be able to reason what data to include and what to exclude when they will not specifically be taught throughout the year about the motor industry in the UK! Here is a step from one of our questions which asks students to reason about something outside the syllabus.
This is becoming more common and means that students will have to develop conviction in their knowledge of the real world and will need to apply confident conclusions to statistics questions.
Take a look at one of our questions to see how we have applied this knowledge in the exam style questions we have prepared. Do let us know any comments/concerns as we're really keen to see how you're teaching the new spec and what surprises you're discovering!