Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2011
INTERDISCIPLINARY EDUCATION ~ Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Uncovering the Truth Behind Polling Data
P. Holt Wilson
University of Carolina, Greensboro
One of the fundamental tenets of social studies education is preparing students to become knowledgeable and informed citizens. Especially in this era of increased communication and technology, one skill necessary for informed citizenship is the ability to critically understand polling data. Social studies educators, however, rarely provide their students with the mathematical framework required to move beyond face-value analysis of public opinion polls. This article outlines the basic statistical processes behind public opinion polls and provides social studies teachers with activities that encourage students to critically question political data presented in the media.