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Discussion on the A-tech-3

Here is a seminar led by a university lecturer about data. It includes a discussion on the three versions of writing on the A-tech 3.
So, welcome this morning. As you know, we’re going to do some discussion around data– what we think data is, how we use data, and then looking at the resources that we’ve all seen beforehand. I’d like you to start thinking about how that makes you think about what data is, and how it can be used in society as well. Just to start the conversation, can anyone give me an example of where they use data? Prove an argument in an essay, or in any way, really, just to prove your argument. OK, so data to prove an argument. Anyone else use data? I’ve just come form an English lesson and we’re looking at English university league tables, so what data is into that.
Fantastic example. Any other examples of data? Experiments. Experiments. We have a hypotheses. You can prove your hypotheses with the data or disprove it. OK, so we’ve got some key words there. We’ve got argument, we’ve got proving, we’ve got ranking to support argument. What do you see data as being then? Facts and figures. Facts and figures. Anything else? Statistical evidence. Although nautical data would be less the writer’s opinion. It wouldn’t be the writer’s opinion, it would be information that he had derived from somewhere else that was true, rather than opinion, which is subjective.
So for the second element, what we’re going to be doing now is relating what we were discussing about data back to the A-Tech phone, and the three paragraphs that we’ve had to read prior to the session this morning. Can you just give me an insight into what you thought the differences between version one and version two was? There was far more statistical evidence in the first one. A lot more percentages in raw– not raw, but not quite so manipulated data or more numbers. Did you enjoy that? Did you enjoy just having those facts there? I think you need a balance.
Because the second one had more interpretation of data, and I think that’s better for affecting people’s actual opinions towards the data. When it just said it was 20% lighter or something, it’s hard to quantify that in your head. So you do need an explanatory paragraph or the point saying explain it to you. Because it’s just a number, really– you can’t really understand what that actually means to you, and how that affects it. So which one then encourages you to ask more questions? Version two. Version two. Because it told you less. It glossed over it, I think, a bit. I think it’s about putting it in a format that the general public understands.
If you’re selling a phone, for example, it would be easier to understand in version two. Because it just says faster, thinner, or lighter. That’s easier to understand than, as Nick said, 20%. So I think it’s about understanding, and version two is easier to understand so it would sell better. What message do you think the author was trying to convey with version one? I thought it was trying to put the facts out there, and then let people make a judgement on their own rather than just saying this is what I think of it, and I think you should agree with me. It read more as a factual report than a review on the item.
How does version three start to change the way that the data is presented in these? They give you far more data– but some of it’s completely irrelevant, like the temperature on the day that they were writing about. But they also give you some opinions. So there’s an element of subjective opinion in there as well. I found it much harder to understand. For example, they gave the length of the phone in millimetres, which is not a unit you would use in everyday life. You’d normally use centimetres. So I found it much harder to make sense of the data, and so I couldn’t really picture the phone in my head. It wasn’t selling the product to me.
So looking at the three different versions, which one persuaded you more about the product, and why? Version two because it made the product clearest in your mind. You could imagine it. The data, it set you up with a point, and then the data confirmed that point to you so you thought it was true. But the first one you had to make your own judgement of it. And so some of the judgments I made, like 18% liked it, doesn’t really matter. And if they say it’s lighter, it’s better, you want us to believe that it is better because it was lighter. So we’ve got version two over there. Anyone else with version two?
I though the version two sold it to me better. But, for example, if I was comparing between a few phones and I was deciding which one to get, I would prefer version one because I would be able to make the best comparison. For example, if version two just says it’s lighter and faster, that’s great, but how much lighter or faster? For example, how much better is it than the previous model? Is it worth me upgrading to the new model? So for example, if I was researching in buying the phone, version two interested me in the product. But when I was researching the phone I would probably look to version one. So you’d go version two first? Yeah.
And then version one to almost support and check the accuracy of what version two was trying to do? OK, so version two, version two. I agree that I’d use version two first, and go onto version one, because version two is also opinionated. And if you’re trying to make your own judgement, you want the facts without the opinion so that you can compare it with another supposedly neutral source. And finally. Version two would be the one to persuade me into researching further. But then version one will be the one I went back to to check my facts. How do you think we’d use data in a university context?
I think at university your work in research is a lot more in your own hands, whereas at school it’s sort of guided by teachers, or if you have textbooks, it’s in the textbook. But at university you have to do a lot more of your own research. So I think it’s up to you to check that the data and facts they’re using are correct rather than just believing that they are correct. You have to make sure that the data you’re using is reliable, or else the research that you’re doing won’t be accurate.

Here is a seminar led by a university lecturer about data. It includes a discussion on the three versions of writing about the A-tech 3.

What would your response be to the lecturer’s questions and do you agree with the students’ responses?

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