Every important social issue - crime, drugs, poverty, health, education - involves the interplay of a variety of factors. These are complex issues which are multivariate in their nature. Life is multi-variate. However, most of the education we provide to young people does not prepare them to engage with multi-variate concepts. We teach, almost exclusively, uni-variate, linear relationships in our Maths and Statistics classes. In other subjects, major issues are rarely addressed by examining quantitative data. If we want an informed citizenry, we need people to be able to engage in debates and decisions about issues which are of great import to them. Much of the debate in the media on these important issues is grounded in opinion and speculation rather than evidence. This research project explored the extent to which pupils across the ability spectrum can reason effectively with multivariate data on a topic of direct personal relevance, and can relate evidence to what they read in newspapers.
We created a series of interactive multivariate displays on alcohol use amongst young people. Data to populate the displays were sourced from the Office of National Statistic (ONS) and the NHS Information Centre (IC). These displays were integrated with current media articles creating a mock 'mashup'. A Mashup is a webpage which combines web based media form a variety of sources, resulting in a hybrid or derivative display. (Click on the image below to see it in action)