Succeed with maths – Part 2
Succeed with maths – Part 2

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Succeed with maths – Part 2

3 More about data

Averages are used frequently in reports and in the media to summarise data. When you come across an average in this way, it’s worth asking yourself some questions before drawing any conclusions.

  • Do you know what kind of average was used?
  • How many values were used to calculate the average?
  • How were the data collected?

Then you’ll be prepared to consider the data, and the type of average used, in a critical manner. The more data that has been used to calculate the average, the more likely it is to be a reliable result.

When averages are calculated, this may be based upon a sample of the total data available rather than all the data, particularly when dealing with large populations.

For example, if you wanted to know the average height of women in a country, it would be impractical to measure and record this value for all women – so a sample of the population would be taken. The more measurements you had from across the whole country, the better idea you would get of an average value for the whole population. As well as this, the more data that you have, the less influence extremes can have on the average if the mean is used, which it generally is.

Similarly, if the data were only collected from schools for example, that also would not be a true representation of the average height. So, how the data were collected is also important.

So, next time you see or hear an average value quoted, see if you can find out what lies behind it!

Now you have looked at a few ways to analyse data, let’s move on to how to present data using tables.

Skip Your course resources
SWMB_2

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371