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Interpreting data: Boxplots and tables

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This free course, Interpreting data: Boxplots and tables, is concerned with two main topics. In Section 1, you will learn about another kind of graphical display, the boxplot. A boxplot is a fairly simple graphic, which displays certain summary statistics of a set of data. Boxplots are particularly useful for assessing quickly the location, dispersion, and symmetry or skewness of a set of data, and for making comparisons of these features in two or more data sets. Boxplots can also be useful for drawing attention to possible outliers in a data set. The other topic, which is covered in Sections 2 and 3, is that of dealing with data presented in tabular form. You are, no doubt, familiar with such tables: they are common in the media and in reports and other documents. Yet it is not always straightforward to see at first glance just what information a table of data is providing, and it often helps to carry out certain calculations and/or to draw appropriate graphs to make this clearer. In this free course, some other kinds of data tables and some different approaches are covered.

After studying this Unit you should:

  • know and be able to use the terms: Boxplots, box, whisker, upper and lower adjacent values, rate, time series, line plot.
  • be aware of the idea that the general pattern of a set of data, in terms of location, dispersion and skewness, can be graphically represented in a boxplot, that boxplots can be used to provide a quick and simple comparison of data sets; that patterns in tabular data can be made clearer by leaving out unhelpful information, by including extra pieces of useful information, or by drawing appropriate graphs; and that calculating appropriate proportions and rates can help in the process of interpreting tabular data.
  • Develop the statistical skill to be able to describe and compare data sets on the basis of boxplots; decide how to re-present data in a table to make any patterns clearer; decide on appropriate rates or proportions to calculate from tabular data; and decide on appropriate graphs to draw to clarify patterns in tabular data.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 16 hours
  • Updated Tuesday 15th April 2014
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Statistics
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Interpreting data: boxplots and tables

Learning outcomes

Unit image

After studying this Unit you should:

  • know and be able to use the terms: Boxplots, box, whisker, upper and lower adjacent values, rate, time series, line plot.

  • be aware of the idea that the general pattern of a set of data, in terms of location, dispersion and skewness, can be graphically represented in a boxplot, that boxplots can be used to provide a quick and simple comparison of data sets; that patterns in tabular data can be made clearer by leaving out unhelpful information, by including extra pieces of useful information, or by drawing appropriate graphs; and that calculating appropriate proportions and rates can help in the process of interpreting tabular data.

  • Develop the statistical skill to be able to describe and compare data sets on the basis of boxplots; decide how to re-present data in a table to make any patterns clearer; decide on appropriate rates or proportions to calculate from tabular data; and decide on appropriate graphs to draw to clarify patterns in tabular data.

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