International competitions as a means to promote statistical literacy on a global scale - the experience of the ISLP


This blog is about the International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) and its efforts to promote statistical literacy globally. The ISLP focuses on fostering awareness and skills in statistical education through online resources, outreach activities, and international competitions.

The primary goal of the International Statistical Literacy Project (ISLP) is to foster statistical literacy globally, targeting both youth and adults in various spheres of life. In pursuit of this objective, we offer an online collection of international resources and updates related to Statistical Literacy, organize international initiatives to amplify awareness about these resources, and highlight the individuals and institutions supporting them. Additionally, we conduct outreach activities to enhance overall awareness of statistical literacy.

Among the most important activities are international competitions. International competitions serve as a benchmark for evaluating the state of statistical literacy globally. They highlight the strengths and areas for improvement in statistical education and practice across different regions. By showcasing successful solutions and best practices, these competitions offer valuable insights that can inform educational programs, policies, and methodologies. This benchmarking process contributes to the development of standardized approaches to statistical literacy, ensuring a consistent and high-quality level of education worldwide. ISLP international competitions serve as a powerful catalyst for promoting statistical literacy globally by engaging a diverse audience, facilitating skill development and learning exchange, establishing benchmarks and best practices, motivating individuals, and building a collaborative global community dedicated to advancing statistical knowledge.

International competitions attract participants from diverse backgrounds and regions, fostering a global community of individuals interested in statistical literacy. This engagement helps raise awareness about the importance of statistical skills on a worldwide scale. Participants and observers become part of a shared initiative that transcends geographic boundaries, emphasizing the universal relevance of statistical literacy in various contexts.

On the other hand, competitions provide a platform for participants to enhance their statistical skills through practical application. By tackling real-world problems and datasets, participants not only reinforce their theoretical knowledge but also gain valuable hands-on experience. The competitive nature encourages continuous learning and drives participants to explore innovative approaches. Furthermore, these events facilitate the exchange of diverse statistical techniques and methodologies, creating a rich learning environment where participants can draw inspiration from each other's insights and strategies.

There are two competitions organized by the ISLP: the International Poster Competition, and the Best Cooperative Project Award.

International Poster competition

The ISLP Poster Competition encourages participants to create statistical posters on topics of their choice. These posters should involve the use, analysis, and interpretation of statistics. Originality is emphasized, and participants are required to use new posters that have not been previously submitted to international competitions. The language of the poster can be either the participant's own or English.

Participants can either collect their own data or use data from reliable published sources, ensuring proper evaluation of source reliability and inclusion of references. Posters must avoid personal information about participants or institutions. Submissions are made to country coordinators, with national juries selecting the best entries for the international competition. Posters can be submitted in paper or PDF format, adhering to specified size and margin guidelines. Participation is in teams of 1-5 students, with no participation fee. There are three categories: lower secondary schools, upper secondary schools, and universities/universities of applied sciences (Bachelor level students). Lower and upper secondary school teams are registered by teachers or faculty staff, while university-level participants contact country coordinators for registration.

As an example, let me show you a poster that became the result of the experience of Ecuador. Between November 2022 and April 2023, 254 Ecuadorian students from schools enthusiastically participated in the competition. Supported by the Ecuadorian Statistical Society (SEE), this event saw collaboration with the Datalat Foundation and the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Ecological Transition.

What type of waste do you produce the most?

Best Cooperative Project Award

The Best Cooperative Project Award in Statistical Literacy is awarded every two years, in recognition of outstanding, innovative, and influential statistical literacy projects that affect a broad segment of the general public and are the fruit of the cooperation of different types of institutions (national statistical offices, schools, statistical societies, media, libraries etc.)

The last winner (2023 edition) was “What's Going On In This Graph?”, a collaboration of the American Statistical Association and the New York Times Learning Network. “What's Going On In This Graph?” is an online, free weekly educational feature. Students are asked to share with their classmates and online what they notice and wonder about a previously published graph that relates to their world. Other students and live teacher moderators reply.

What's going on in this graph?

In this case, it is suggested that after looking closely at the graph above (or at this full-size image), students should answer these four questions:

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?
  • How does this relate to you and your community?
  • Create a catchy headline that captures the graph’s main idea.

The great idea behind these competitions is that competing on an international stage motivates individuals to excel in the field of statistics. The recognition associated with winning or even participating in such competitions acknowledges the efforts and skills of participants. This recognition serves as a powerful incentive, inspiring individuals to pursue careers or further education in statistics. Additionally, it promotes the importance of statistical literacy as a key skill set, encouraging a broader audience to recognize its significance in various professional and academic domains.

Furthermore, international competitions create a sense of community among statisticians, educators, and learners worldwide. Participants often form networks, share experiences, and collaborate on future projects. This collaborative spirit strengthens the global statistical community, fostering a culture of knowledge exchange and cooperation. The relationships built during these competitions contribute to ongoing efforts to advance statistical literacy, with participants becoming ambassadors for the cause in their respective regions.

* Mr. Pedro Campos is Deputy-Director of the International Statistical Literacy Project, and leads the team of Statistical Literacy at GIST, where he helps promote statistical literacy worldwide.

Pedro is currently Director of Methodology in Statistics Portugal. He has a PhD in Business Sciences from the University of Porto (2008) where he is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics, and teaches in the areas of Statistics, Data Analysis, Data Mining and Information Systems. Pedro is also a member of LIAAD (Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Decision Analysis) at INESC TEC.