Governments, businesses and researchers gather statistics so they can draw conclusions and make decisions about specific issues. So if we're using statistics to make these important decisions, it's important to make sure that we're really investigating that issue.

That's why it's important to make sure we ask the right questions when we are collecting data. We need specific research questions that will give us specific answers to the questions we are trying to answer.

We also need to understand what graphs and statistical information are trying to tell us so we can draw conclusions based on information that is presented to us.

Features of a Statistical Question

A statistical question must have all of the following:

a variety of possible answers: there has to be more than one answer to a question

state a population: it must apply to more than one person

need some statistical methods to answer the question

Worked Examples

Question 1

What statistical attributes would need to be considered if you were trying to investigate how many hours of homework your teachers set each week?

Whether the homework set is online or on paper

A

How many hours of homework each teacher sets each week

B

How many hours your teachers spend marking homework each week

C

QUESTION 2

What statistical attribute is being compared in the bar graph?

Preferred sport

A

The number of hours of sport played

B

Number of boys

C

QUESTION 3

Which three of the following are statistical questions?

How much do puppies weigh?

A

Have you ever visited Tokyo, Japan?

B

How old are Olympic gold medal winners when they win their medal?