GE2213 Understanding Uncertainty and Statistical Reasoning
Course Duration : one semester
Credit Units : 3
Medium of Instruction: English
Prerequisite(s) : Nil
Precursors(s) : Nil
Equivalent Course(s) : Nil
Exclusive Course(s) : Nil
With today’s widespread use of statistics in the media and academia, this course provides students with a good understanding of the concept of uncertainty so that they become better informed decision makers and critical consumers of statistical information in their future professional lives. It aims to examine both the uses and limitations of statistical information, looking at examples from the media, and using a case study approach. By the end of the course, students will be able to evaluate and make critical judgments about reports that involve uncertainty and statistical concepts, and develop the capacity to assume individual and social responsibilities.
Uncertainty, variability and incomplete information are inherent in all disciplines. With a minimum of mathematical and statistical prerequisites, the course has a wide potential audience and will be useful, for example, to students with major study in business administration, marketing, public administration, legal studies, journalism, political science, sociology, engineering, science, health, and environmental science.. The course content will be based on materials on economic and social statistics, and real world case studies concerning issues of current importance and relevance.
Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs)
Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
|No. ||CILOs ||Weighting |
|1 ||Explain the concept of uncertainty, and the uses and limitations of statistics ||10% |
|2 ||Describe key changes in the historical development of the concept of uncertainty and statistical reasoning principles ||10% |
|3 ||Critique various methods of statistical reporting used in the media in areas such as business, public administration, engineering, science, law, marketing, and the environment (Ability) ||20% |
|4 ||Apply concepts of uncertainty and statistical thinking underlying data-based arguments in various media (e.g. newspapers, magazines, video) ||20% |
|5 ||Interpret and critically evaluate statistically-based reports in different disciplines ||20% |
|6 ||Able to demonstrate the attitude to provide recommendations/innovations based on statistical data (Attitude) ||20% |
Teaching and Learning Activities (TLAs)
(Indicative of likely activities and tasks designed to facilitate students’ achievement of the CILOs. Final details will be provided to students in their first week of attendance in this course)
Concepts and relevant knowledge of how to identify uncertainty and use basic statistical theories are explained. Students learn how to identify uncertainty and become familiar with the use of basic statistical theories.
Videos are shown to highlight real-life examples of uncertainty. Follow-up group discussions provide students with the opportunity to critique and identify relevant statistical solutions to the examples.
TLA3: Outside Classroom Activities
- Case Studies:
Prior to class students work in groups to read and critique academic research papers or business case studies that illustrate uncertainty and demonstrate how statistics are used in the real world. In class students brainstorm possible answers to questions arising from various case study problems before giving a brief presentation of their findings, their critiques and recommendations.
- Group Discussion:
Students work in groups to research and discuss the latest issues related to uncertainty and statistics. Students conduct a critical evaluation and make informed contributions to tutorial discussions on the basis of background reading.
- Group Project:
Students work in a group of four or five to study the statistics published in the Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics. They are required to identify the relevant data relating to critical social, economic or environmental problems in Hong Kong. Students need to understand the terms used in the Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics. They also need to decide how to present the important/significant information graphically so as to be able to clearly describe the trends or observable characteristics. The students are encouraged to identify and interpret the relationships between the selected topics. Finally, they are required to provide recommendations/innovations to corresponding government departments which suggest ways to improve the living standard and social environment in Hong Kong.
- Company Visit:
These may include visits to the Hong Kong Government Census and Statistics Department; a marketing research company, the analytic department of firms in the banking and/or other industries, etc.
- Newspaper Cuttings:
Students research and select an article from a newspaper or magazine which contains statistical information. They identify the information in the article which is uncertain and write down the reasons why they believe this. In the classroom, groups of students discuss the statistical information and its applications in the community in their own and their classmate’s newspaper/magazine cuttings.
Additional help is provided to individuals and groups outside official class time within advertised hours.
Constructive Alignment of CILOs and Teaching and Learning Activities
| ||TLA1: Lecture ||TLA2: Tutorial ||TLA3: Outside Classroom Activities ||Hours/week (if applicable) |
|CILO 1 ||ü || || || |
|CILO 2 ||ü || || || |
|CILO 3 ||ü ||ü ||ü || |
|CILO 4 ||ü ||ü || || |
|CILO 5 ||ü ||ü ||ü || |
|CILO 6 ||ü ||ü ||ü || |
Assessment Tasks/Activities (Indicative of likely activities and tasks designed to assess how well the students achieve the CILOs. Final details will be provided to students in their first week of attendance in this course)
|Type of assessment tasks/activities ||Weighting ||Remarks |
|40% ||This quiz is designed to test students’ grasp of uncertainty and statistical concepts based on their reading of the cases used in lectures. |
Group Project Presentation
|40% ||An oral presentation and critique of a statistically based text or video case study is given to the tutorial group. This is used to test students’ understanding and mastery of statistically based texts. It is designed as a basis for AT3, and feedback for improvement will be given. |
Individual Assignment: A written critique of a statistically-based reading text
|20% ||This individual assignment assesses students’ ability to interpret and critically evaluate statistically-based reports. With a good sense in statistical reasoning, the critique does not require in-depth knowledge of intricate statistical techniques. Formative comments via an assessment framework will be given to students. |
|CILO ||AT1 ||AT2 ||AT3 |
|Quiz ||Group Project Presentation ||Individual Assignment: A written critique of a statistically-based reading text |
|1 ||ü || || |
|2 ||ü || || |
|3 ||ü ||ü ||ü |
|4 ||ü ||ü ||ü |
|5 ||ü ||ü ||ü |
|6 || ||ü ||ü |
Grading of Student Achievement :Refer to Grading of Courses in the Academic Regulations (Attachment) and to the Explanatory Notes.
100% coursework and in class performance
AT 1: Grading Criteria of Assessment Task: Quiz
A+ A A-
B+ B B-
C+ C C-
|Shows excellent grasp of uncertainty and statistical concepts featured in lectures and indicated readings. ||Shows good grasp of uncertainty and statistical concepts featured in lectures and indicated readings. ||Shows fair grasp of uncertainty and statistical concepts featured in lectures and indicated readings. ||Shows marginal grasp of uncertainty and statistical concepts featured in lectures and indicated readings. |
AT 2: Grading Criteria of Assessment Task: Group Project Presentation
A+ A A-
B+ B B-
C+ C C-
|1. Presents and communicates effectively and with flair in oral and electronic format ||Presents and communicates effectively in oral and electronic format ||Presents and communicates acceptably in oral and electronic format (with some areas needing improvement) ||Presents and communicates marginally in oral and electronic format (with major areas needing improvement) |
|2. Shows excellent coverage of materials and contents and demonstrates excellent time management skills ||Shows good coverage of materials and contents and demonstrates good time management skills ||Shows fair coverage of materials and contents and acceptable time management skills ||Shows marginal coverage of materials and contents and poor time management skills |
|3. Provides quality answers to questions raised in the presentation Q & A session. ||Provides good answers to questions raised in the presentation Q & A session ||Provides acceptable answers to questions raised in the presentation Q & A session ||Provides fair answers to questions raised in the presentation Q & A session |
AT3: Grading Criteria of Assessment Task: Individual Assignment
A+ A A-
B+ B B-
C+ C C-
|1. Interprets and critically evaluates statistically-based reports effectively and excellently in written format ||Interprets and critically evaluates statistically-based reports effectively in written format ||Interprets and evaluates statistically-based reports acceptably in written format (with some areas needing improvement) ||Interprets and evaluates statistically-based reports marginally in written format (with major areas needing improvement) |
|2. Shows excellent coverage of materials and contents ||Shows good coverage of materials and contents ||Shows fair coverage of materials and contents ||Shows marginal coverage of materials and contents |
AT4: Grading Criteria of Assessment Task: In-Class Discussion
A+ A A-
B+ B B-
C+ C C-
|Always able to provide excellent answers to class exercises. ||Frequently able to provide good answers to class exercises. ||Occasionally able to provide answers to class exercises. ||Occasionally present and able to provide answers to class exercises. |
|Proactively participates in class discussion by offering innovative ideas and asking questions ||Participates in class discussion by offering some ideas and asking questions ||Occasionally active when urged to participate in class discussion offering some acceptable ideas and asking limited questions ||Reactively participates in discussion offering very limited ideas |
Uncertainty and variability; logic of uncertainty; the uses of uncertainty; measuring uncertainty; what are statistics; statistical concepts and reasoning; data-based arguments; “data sense” development, modern use of statistics, limitations of statistics; current affairs; media, interpret and critique statistically-based reports.
The following is an indicative of likely modules and topics students will undertake to learn in this course. Final details and specific reading materials for specific topics will be provided to students in their first week of attendance in this course.
Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Understanding Uncertainty
- What is uncertainty?
- The role of uncertainty in people’s lives
- Approaches to uncertainty – probabilistic, fuzzy logic, …
- Historical development of the concept of uncertainty and statistical reasoning principles
- Statistics concepts relating to post-renaissance modernization
- Statistics as data and as methodology
- Data vs information: a distinction between data on the individual entity and statistics
Module 3: Case studies and applications
- Uncertainty about specific future, present, or past events
- Uncertainty about the parameters within models
- Uncertainty about the structure of models
- Uncertainty about the relevance to particular problems of the entire modeling process
3.1 Applications in business management
3.2 Applications in science and technology
- Investment strategies: trends, moving average and noise
- Premium estimation: pricing of insurance products
- Utility functions: how to make decisions
- Quality management: reliability, six-sigma
3.3 Applications in everyday life
- Ignorance, chaos and quantum mechanics: causes of randomness
- Evolution, genes, and viruses: randomness in biology
- Medical decision making: specificity and sensitivity
- Spam, probability, and spam: blocking unwanted e-mail
Module 4: Statistical concepts and reasoning
- Commonly encountered social and economic statistics
- Fifty-one percent to forty-nine percent: the true meaning of polls
- Laying down the law: why casinos always win
- Final exam: do you have probability perspective?
- Use of statistics to support claims or positions
- Common errors in the use and presentation of numerical measures
- Making judgments from surveys and experiments
Department of Management Sciences