Discover how to read and understand data in the media, and how to spot fake news based on misleading statistics.
Improve your data literacy and learn how to spot misleading statistics
We are bombarded with media statistics every day, but how much of this data is reliable?
On this course, you’ll learn how to read and evaluate data in the media and how to stay alert to misleading statistics and fake news.
You’ll find out how data is created, and how survey formats can affect outcomes.
You’ll also learn the basic principles of data analysis, such as correlation and causation and margins of sampling error.
Ultimately, assessing data and looking for intentionally or unintentionally misleading statistics will help you become a better-informed citizen.
What topics will you cover?
- Recognising the ‘size’ of numbers that are reported in the media.
- How change and risk are reported.
- How social statistics are created, paying particular attention to survey data.
- What we can learn from census categories.
- The different ways that surveys can be conducted and the impact that different formats can have on the results.
- How to draw a representative sample from a population.
- Sources of measurement error in surveys.
- Measuring sensitive or difficult subjects.
- Checking whether data is trustworthy by reviewing the methodology.
- How to calculate the Margin of Sampling Error (MoSE).
- The difference between correlation and causation.
- Where to find existing sources of data.
- How to develop a quantitative research project.
When would you like to start?
Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts.
- Available now
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to:
- Become a critical consumer of data in the media.
- Explain how social statistics are created.
- Evaluate data to make informed decisions about which results to trust.
- Design a quantitative research project.
Who is the course for?
This course is suitable for anyone looking to improve their data literacy.
The course will also be useful to those studying or considering studying data-focused social science subjects.
Who will you learn with?
I'm a senior lecturer in Quantitative Methods at the Sheffield Methods Institute at the University of Sheffield.
I am a sociologist working as a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods at the Sheffield Methods Institute, the University of Sheffield, UK. I teach on survey design and data collection techniques.
Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Social Science; Director of the Sheffield Q-Step Centre; Statistical Ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society. Research interests in political psychology.
Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Social Sciences at Sheffield Methods Institute, University of Sheffield.
Who developed the course?
The University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence.
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