Math Tools for Journalists
March 30, 2009
One of the first books I bought when I started here at LJMU was Kathleen Woodruff Wickham’s Math Tools for Journalists (Marion Street Press).
Despite the fact that it is, as one would expect, heavily biased towards American readers, it’s full of useful examples and exercises. I have the “professional/professor” version but, because I don’t own the student edition, I don’t know how the two editions differ. Certainly the worked problems are a good basis for creating classroom exercises, even though the specific chapters on Federal Statistics and Property Taxes need to be very heavily re-worked. The end-of-chapter learning challenges have helpful suggestions for extending students’ understanding.
By supplementing some of the material in here with examples culled from recent newspapers, it’s easy to build up a library of real-life examples for students to work on. It always increases motivation if you can show students how the work they’re doing in the classroom is used in practice. A discussion of percentage change, for example, benefitted from me bringing in a copy of my local free paper, the Chester Standard, which reported the recent changes to council tax. I blanked out parts of the report (key figures, some of which had been rounded off) and got the students to fill in the blanks.
A UK editon, with detail of the London stock market, British council tax and less on the metric system, would be worthwhile.