An important theme in an introductory statistics course is the connection between statistics and the outside world. This article describes some assignments that have been useful in getting students to learn how to gather and process information presented in the newspaper articles and scientific reports they read. We discuss two related assignments. For the first kind of assignment, students work through prepared instructional packets. Each packet contains a newspaper article that reports on a scientific study or statistical analysis, the original report on which the article was based, a worksheet with guidelines for summarizing the reported study, and a series of questions. In the second kind of assignment, each student is required to find a newspaper article themselves, track down the original report, summarize the study using our guidelines, and write a critique of the article. Here, we describe the guidelines we developed to help the student in reading the newspaper article and orginal source, and the procedures we used for each type of assignment. Examples of handouts and assignments appear as appendixes.
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The CAUSE Research Group is supported in part by a member initiative grant from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics and Data Science Education