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The University of Sheffield

Making Sense of Data in the Media

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn

Overview

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.

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.

Taught by

Todd Hartman, Aneta Piekut Educator and Mark Taylor

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Reviews

4.7 rating, based on 35 reviews

Start your review of Making Sense of Data in the Media

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I have always had an aversion to numbers and therefore quantitative research. This course is well structured and interactive. I found it enjoyable, challenging and informative. I'm not yet ready to take a full course in quantitative research, however,...
  • Anonymous
    It was very interesting. I learned a lot about census data and how to spot misleading information in the news. I think everyone should take this course.
  • Anonymous
    Enjoyed day 1 and day 3. Didn't think developing your own research question was really that relevant
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Interesting course. We are bombarded with polls and surveys. Daily the media present us with percentages, conclusions, results, rarely if ever with a clear explanation of where the data has come from, how and why it has been collected. This course really helps us to understand these aspects and how we can become better data citizens.
    People often have a skewed, negative view of the world today. Most believe things are worse than they are and often believe things are getting even worse. I think this is most unhelpful but it won't change until more people start to assess critically what they see, read or hear, this course really helps you to do that.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Irrespective of what you take away from this course, it is one of the most important and essential courses FutureLearn puts out. We are smothered in data every day of our lives; if we cannot read that data correctly, we are at the mercy of so much 'fake' that we can be totally manipulated into believing what some faceless character wants us to believe. And the presence of social media makes it worse. The only way we can keep a clear head and an accurate understanding of the world around us is to be able to 'read' data correctly, and the FutureLearn course will enable us to do that.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is a really instructive, interesting and pertinent course for everyone. I went through it with comfortable ease. There was a good balance of reading, videos and not too much background information to take in. The examples were thought provoking and manageable. I feel confident to use this information in a project I am preparing for to help me produce sound evidence for my area of concern. Above all, anyone who reads, listens to or watches popular media will have their "fake news blinkers" removed. Many thanks to the team.
  • Anonymous
    The course is very thought provoking and now I am more sceptical of what I read in the media rather than assuming the data to be true.

    My only issue is that you have to pay for a certificate of completion, which I cannot afford but know it is necessary for most online courses. I have still learned a lot and can prove I have gained new skills without the certificate.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Interesting and well presented. However! it called for more than basic arithmetic skills. Possibly even use of a scientific calculator. Great pity. Could the course designers not show the working for the calculations eg 1% divided by 1.5% it's not an everyday problem. I dredged up some primary school maths on fractions and some O level physics to deal with powers of 10, but was never sure I was right. So overwhelmed with frustration I had to drop out.
  • Anonymous
    My thanks to Mark Taylor, Andy Bell, Aneta Piekut & Todd Hartman for producing a truly brilliant course around 'Making Sense of Data in the Media'. The course has helped me as a lay-person understand and query any figures produced as 'headline grabbing' by the media and question their validity and source.

    I will definitely recommend this course to my friends and even believe it should be taught in secondary schools as part of Maths or PSHE
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    As a researcher I find many quantitative surveys used as evidence in studies as well as in the media. The course has helped me look at this data much more carefully and rather than seeing it as necessarily useless (especially US studies that only survey students), I can consider more carefully what the data tells us and what it doesn't. I enjoyed the presentations, articles and many of the posters comments.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I exceeded my expectations of myself in not only completing this course but enjoying it which is mainly due in how it was presented. It has given me an insight in how data is collected, how it can be used and how to begin to assess whether it is accurate, the main reasons for doing the course in the first place. It was a new world to me, a bit of an eye opener and well worthwhile.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Really enjoyed this course - it was very interesting and presented in an informative - challenging but clear to follow way. The extent of input from different sources also made it very relevant and stimulating. I would highly recommend this to all A level students to make them think about the media we consume on a daily basis.
    Thanks
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Outstanding course. I found the content really interesting and it was pitched at exactly the right level. It has certainly openned my eyes to how data can be misrepresented. I think I have gained useful tools to be able to question the so called 'facts' I am presented with by various media.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    A really well thought-through course with great variety of content and loads of links worthy of exploration. Though I didn't take while "live" the input from the mentor was plentiful and engaging.
    I've worked in market research for many years and still found new nuggets - many thanks.
  • Anonymous
    Brilliant course; informative in a straightforward way. Real-world examples are used alongside theoretical concepts and large practical studies. This prevents the information from feeling overwhelming, and also makes the subject of data and how it's used feel important.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course is an eye-opener. You should take it. It will help you make sense of all the statistics you read in the news and give you the ability to see more clearly what all the numbers mean. It will also challenge you on your hidden biases and wrong perceptions.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great material to study and digest, thank you for your clear explanations and comments.
    It is interesting how to analyse surveys' sources, dataset, numbers, questions formulated ....especially now during lock-down .. #covid19 #data #crosscheckreferences
  • Anonymous
    It's a great course! Its interesting and challenging at the perfect level. In my opinion it also teaches some very useful skills and concepts and it uses exercises and examples well to illustrate the points that are made and consolidate knowledge.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is a really worth while course. With so much information thrown to us each day its good to understand how this information is captured but it also informs you how to question that information as to who accurate it is.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I think this course make me know the social science research method better. We can meet with so many numbers everyday in our daily life, but if we cannot indentify them scientifially, we can be easily led astray.

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