# PERCEPTIONS OF IMPORTANCE OF STATISTICS TO LEARNING ECONOMICS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

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CHAPTER ONE

1.1     Background of the study

Statistics deals with collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation and organization of data. Applying statistics for example, a scientific problem, industrial or social, it is conventional to start with a statistical population or a random process model to study (Peter, Bickel, Kjell and Doksum, 2010). Statistics education is the practice of teaching and learning of statistics and the associated scientific research. Statistics is both a formal science and a practical theory of scientific research, and both aspects are considered in statistics education (Bickel, 2010).

On the other hand, statistics play an important role in research of almost any kind because they deal with easily-quantified data. Experts use statistics to understand large and complex sets of data. Statistics are also helpful with surveys, which legislators use to affect policy (Peter, 2010). Knowing how statistics work is important for fully understanding news reports.Large sets of data can be complex, and understanding what the data means requires advanced analytical tools. Statistics is a set of tools than can inform experts dealing with complex information.Understanding statistics helps people determine the meaning of statistics in the news and other fields. Knowing that one outlier can skew averages is important, and understanding the margin of error is essential when dealing with relatively small effects (Kjell, 2010).

However, since statistics are methodology necessary in the field of statistics and are used to collect, analyze and evaluate data, economics depends heavily on the use of statistics. Economics deals with how people behave with regard to the production and consumption of goods. As a social science, economics attempts to describe trends in consumer markets, such as wealth acquisition and transfer (Jegede, 2013). Moreover, there are various themes studied within both forms of economics, including costs, production, consumption, and the rationales behind individual, corporate, national and international trade. In order to develop hypotheses around the various topic areas, economists make use of statistics and are able to compare information. Economic statistics involve quantitative data that describe either past or present trends (Fraser, 2013). Statistics is useful in economics, as it is useful in many other disciplines, simply because it helps theorists / businessmen / evil-financial-corporations make predictions about the future for their own benefit (Doksum, 2010). Well, statistics helps economics a lot in that, statistics helps in giving a quantitative expression to economic problems, for instance,  if one says that there are many jobless people in Nigeria, it does not give  the clearer picture, whereas if one says that about 26% people of  are unemployed one gets the better idea (Peter, 2010).  It helps economists find a cause and effect relationship between two different sets of data. It likewise helps the Finance minister and other authorities in formulating economic theories and policies. Economists are able to do future planning on the basis of statistical studies. They can assess the future position of certain events (Jegede, 2013).

It is well known that economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. However, perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. Perception can be split into two processes. Firstly, processing sensory input, which transforms the low-level of information to higher-level information, for instance extracts shapes for object recognition). Secondly, processing which is connected with a person's concepts and expectations (knowledge) and selective mechanisms (attention) that influence perception. Perception depends on complex functions of the nervous system, but subjectively seems mostly effortless because this processing happens outside conscious awareness (Johnson, 2014).

Since the rise of experimental psychology in the 19th Century, psychology's understanding of perception has progressed by combining a variety of techniques. Psychophysics quantitatively describes the relationships between the physical qualities of the sensory input and perception. Sensory neuroscience studies the brain mechanisms underlying perception. Perceptual systems can also be studied computationally, in terms of the information they process. Perceptual issues in philosophy include the extent to which sensory qualities such as sound, smell or color exist in objective reality rather than in the mind of the perceiver (Ballard, 2014).

On the other hand, the importance of economics education goes far beyond the goal of improving an understanding of the basic principles of supply and demand and the workings of our economy. Students develop perceptions of their economic world at an early age, which, as they progress through the educational process, develop into attitudes and opinions about the subject of economics. Intended or not, teachers influence the direction of attitude development. By finding ways to teach students more about economics, teachers are contributing to improved attitudes toward the subject (Becker, 2012). By teaching basic economic concepts and applying them to classroom discussions of economic issues and institutions, teachers are not indoctrinating students, but providing a knowledge foundation for more informed student opinions and decision- making on vital issues. The more economics concepts students know, the more they like and value the subject and the more information they have about economic issues. Students who do not get the opportunity to learn economics and increase their economic understanding will probably never take much interest in the subject or in their economic world (Watts 2012).

1.2     Statement of the problems

Despite the greater number of Economics graduates produced by our tertiary institutions; every year there are numbers of secondary schools where Economics teachers are not competent in the teaching of the subject. Also, the perception of the students in secondary schools towards Statistics in learning Economics as a profession is not encouraging. This makes the teaching of Economics ineffective and inefficient even where there are competent teachers to teach. It is on this premise, that this study is designed to investigate the attitude of students to teaching and learning of Economics in secondary schools. While statistics are extremely valuable, they are also notorious for being a means that people use to make false and misleading arguments.Also far too often statistics are obtained by taking a sample from a larger group and assuming the whole group has the same characteristics as the sample. This is just bad science, rather than straight out lying. Then there’s the problem with statistics that are true but misleading. Even when statistics are technically accurate, particular statistical facts can be very misleading. So statistics can certainly be useful, but should never be trusted as evidence. Statistics when used to prove something always need to be accompanied by information on how it was gathered.

1.3 Objective of the study

The main objective of the study is to the perceptions of secondary school students toward the importance of statistics in learning Economics as a subject.

Specific objectives are:

1.     To determine students perceptions towards statistics

2.     To determine their perceptions as a result of their teachers attitude towards the subject

3.     To find out if Statistics should be made compulsory for all  science students offering Economics in secondary schools

1.4 Research Questions

1.     Do the students have good perceptions towards statistics?

2.     Do their perceptions originate as a result of their teachers negative attitude towards the subject?

3.     Should Statistics be made compulsory for all science students offering Economics in secondary schools?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

1.     There is no significant relationship between Statistics and Economics as a subject

2.     Negative attitude of teachers would not affect the perceptions of student to statistics in learning Economics.

1.6 Significance of the study

The results of the study is hoped to assist Economics teachers to develop new learning experience for the students and reorganize these learning experience in some ways enough to arouse the interest of the students. It would be of good assistance to teachers to create a habit were they would improve on the obsolete teaching methods, use adequate, modern and relevant instructional materials and textbooks at their disposed to the fullest. Finally, the government and parents would benefits from the study of their roles as these would be highlighted at the recommendation.

1.7 Scope of the study

The study is delimited to secondary schools in order to find out the importance of statistics in learning Economics among students.

1.8 Limitations of the study

Ultimatums that may threaten this study are as follows;

·        Fund to be able to evaluate online materials

·        Financial constraints in terms of typing the work

·        Time constraints due to other academic pressure

1.9 Definition of terms

Statistics: - Is the study that involves students in the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data

Economics: - This is a subject for both science and art students in the Senior Secondary Schools

Learning: - This is the process of acquiring knowledge in Economics among Senior Secondary Schools Students.

Perception: - This is the way in which statistics are understood, or interpreted by the students learning Economics in Secondary Schools

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