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ERIC Number: EJ818746
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0045-0685
Eye Colour and Reaction Time: An Opportunity for Critical Statistical Reasoning
Watson, Jane
Australian Mathematics Teacher, v64 n3 p30-40 2008
This author was surprised to read a short article in "The Mercury" newspaper in Hobart about blue-eyed people being more intelligent and brown-eyed people having faster reaction times. Such an article invites immediate scepticism from the statistically literate. The lack of data in the article should lead the interested reader to a search for further information, most likely through an Internet search. Although the first claim might be considered too contentious for investigation in the classroom, the second one about brown eyes and reaction times seems quite harmless and could provide considerable motivation for data collection and analysis to confirm or refute the claim. This article progresses through the steps that could be followed in a middle school classroom to explore the question and develop critical statistical reasoning skills. Students should first consider their initial reaction to the claims in the article and what questions they would like to have answered before accepting the claims. Second, students should undertake as much research on the topic as possible, probably through the Internet. Next students have the opportunity to collect data from their own class and see what their sample suggests about the claim. Finally students can collect larger random samples, such as from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) "CensusAtSchool" website to check out the eye colour and reaction time claim. All of these steps should then contribute to a report that supplies evidence for and/or against the claim and reaches a tentative conclusion about its validity. (Contains 14 figures and 4 footnotes.)
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia