Statistical Data and the Education Debate Part 1: Effect and Cause

Scenes From The Battleground


There is a lot of debate over what counts as evidence in education and I have barely begun to read up on the topic, but there are a few errors that I keep seeing made again and again in the use of statistics in educational debate that need to be emphasised. So this is the first of a trio of posts about statistical issues that have come up when I’ve been discussing education.

To begin with, statistical evidence is open to interpretation, and one of the most common errors is to interpret a statistical relationship as showing cause and effect the wrong way round. It is so common that I have become a habitual promoter of this particular song explaining the mistake.

Where I see this error in the education debate is where somebody dismisses an obvious reaction (R) to a problem (P) by saying “P happens where R happens…

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About teachingbattleground

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