ASA Partners with New York Times Learning Network to Launch Monthly Statistics Feature

As interest in statistics coursework and programs continues to grow at high schools across the country, teachers now have a new activity to challenge the next generation of critical thinkers when it comes to analyzing and understanding data. The ASA is partnering with The New York Times Learning Network to develop a unique exercise, titled “What’s Going On in This Graph?

“We hear from countless teachers that reaching today’s students, who are inundated with data at any given moment, requires outside-the-box thinking. We also know that students learn best through dynamic and hands-on application, rather than simple recitation,” said ASA President Barry D. Nussbaum. This project brings statistics to life through a creative, intriguing delivery that is certain to increase awareness and excitement for statistics and data science throughout the K–12 community.”

With the activity spearheaded by ASA member Sharon Hessney, this partnership is modeled after the Times’s popular series, “What’s Going On in This Picture?” and is intended to inspire students to examine graphs, charts, or maps via a rich and robust supply of the Time’s infographics.

Each month, a different New York Times graph will be published on a topic suitable for a variety of subjects across the curriculum. Students will then be asked to use math and statistics thinking skills to answer the following questions:

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?
  • What’s going on in this graph?

Under Hessney’s leadership, an ASA team will help select graphs to use each month, help moderate discussion and engage students, and provide a “reveal” at the end of the week-long session that incorporates the graph’s original title and caption and related statistical concepts and vocabulary to help students transform the data into information.

“For years while teaching math, I have started my day with a cup of coffee and The New York Times, and very frequently, my eye caught an excellent graph, map, or chart,” said Hessney. “In math class, I would project the item on the board and ask, ‘So, what’s going on in this graph?’ It was a great class starter, and as a result, we covered so many timely topics and learned how to ‘read’ graphs.”