Belief in the media
Students are met with claims from various media everyday, including Facebook, websites, radio, television and newspapers. Some claims are based on samples of size one, which is a single incidence of some event, or on sensational headlines.
One of the general capabilities described in the curriculum is Critical and creative thinking. Among the organising elements of this capability are:
- Inquiring – identifying, exploring and clarifying information
- Analysing, synthesising and evaluating information. (Source: ACARA)
These skills are needed for students to engage critically with reports in the media, whether those reports are about current affairs or about commercial products available for purchase.
Related to the general capability for critical thinking, the Framework for critical statistical literacy when encountering media claims includes:
- identifying statistical terminology used
- exploring and understanding the use of the terminology in the context
- evaluating and criticising claims made without proper justification.
Sensational claims can be found nearly every day in news and advertising.
Using media in the classroom
Critical thinking needs to be applied whenever students encounter statistical claims in the media. There are several stages in the successful use of media extracts in the classroom.
Media claims activity
This activity is based on an extract from a newspaper. It challenges students to think about the sampling method and the way in which the results are extrapolated from a non-representative sample.
Questioning the media
This example links two different media reports on household spending across Australia.
Teaching critical questioning
Helping students contrast data from different sources may lead to questions of conflict of interest. These issues are at the heart of statistical literacy.