Maths GCSE: Statistics

Mathematician and comedian Matt Parker simplifies the use of lines of best fit for students struggling to achieve a passing mark on the maths GCSE.

Looking at using lines of best fit, Matt explains how to draw these lines using data that your students are given and how to use those lines to interpret their data.

Designed as a revision tool using common mistakes highlighted in examiners reports we look at both good and bad use of the data by warning of the pitfalls in trying to extrapolate data.

With helpful graphics and a light-hearted approach, we are reminded about some useful exam techniques.

Matt also uses the 100m record as a clear way of showing how extrapolation can be problematic for data.

This short film is from the BBC series, The Maths Show.

Teacher Notes

During the video:

  • Pause when Matt starts talking about lines of best fits and quiz your students to see if they know what things to watch out for when studying lines of best fit. Can they guess the pitfalls?
  • It could be beneficial to have multiple graphs to refer to during pausing the video, so students could identify where the line was correctly drawn or where the learner has fallen in to the common errors.

After the video:

  • Reflect on mark schemes. Look at the information that examiners need from a question. If you have already used peer marking before the video, get the same students to mark the same paper after the video, encouraging their checking skills.
  • Extend students’ thinking to identify outliers - students could discuss whether outliers should be used when drawing your line of best fit. What could the causes of outliers be - human error or a real outlier?
  • Can your students name real world examples of positive and negative correlation? Perhaps in football, stadium attendance per match and the home team’s performance? Weather and ice-cream sales? See what examples they can come up with and help them understand both positive and negative correlation. What are examples of no correlation? Weather in Bolivia and breakfast choices in a town near Birmingham?

Curriculum Notes

Suitable for teaching maths at GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland.

More from The Maths Show

Exam Techniques for GCSE Maths
Ratio and Proportion
Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
Algebra and Negative Numbers
Algebra - Formulae and Graphs