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Displaying and Describing Quantitative Data
(Topics 1.5-1.6)

Chapter 1 - Day 5

Learning Targets
  • Make and interpret dotplots, stemplots, and histograms of quantitative data.

  • Identify the shape of a distribution from a graph.

  • Describe the overall pattern (shape, center, and variability) of a distribution and identify any major departures from the pattern (outliers).

Activity: How Many Pairs of Shoes Do You Own?
Answer Key:

Have students come up to the white board to record the number of pairs of shoes that they own. Students should be somewhat familiar with the applets from from Lesson 1.1.  Help them to recognize they will be using a different applet today because the data is quantitative, rather than categorical.

Teaching Tip

When students are describing the shape of a distribution,  encourage them to use -ly adverbs in their description.  For example, say “fairly symmetric or slightly skewed right, or later approximately normal).  It is very unlikely that any distribution is a perfect symmetric, skewed right, or normal distribution.  The -ly word softens up the description to account for this idea.

Students can use the acronym SOCV (shape, outliers, center, variability) to remember the ideas that should be addressed when describing a distribution.  If you are using previous versions of The Practice of Statistics, you will notice that the 6th edition has moved from using the more general term of “spread” to the more statistical term of “variability”.

Be sure that students include a key when they make their stem and leaf plot.  Question #1 on the 2010B AP Exam asked students to make a stem plot and the rubric called for students losing credit if they forgot to include a key.

AP Exam Tips

It is very common that the first question on the AP Exam will ask students to describe a distribution or compare two distributions based on some graphs (see 2016 #1 or 2015 #1).  Here are some very important tips:

  • According to the rubrics over the years, it is important for students to address shape, center, variability, and outliers in their response.

  • When comparing two distributions, students should compare shape, center, variability and outliers between the two distributions using comparative words (less than, greater than, similar to).  Don’t simply list shape, center, variability, and outliers for each distribution.  They must compare.

  • Students must establish context.  They do this by identifying the variable that is being displayed by the graph.  “The distribution of Robin’s tip amounts is skewed to the right…”.  Context needs to be stated only once in the response.  Students do not need to repeat context over and over again.

Luke's Lesson Notes

Here is a brief video highlighting some key information to help you prepare to teach this lesson.

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