Meaningful Math: News Media for Increasing Adult Statistical Literacy

Lead Staff:
Eric Hochberg
Jim Hammerman


The Meaningful Math project studies and aims to improve the data, statistics, and numeracy supports for consumers of news media. The project centers on the question, How can we provide enough scaffolding within a traditional news story to help people understand not only the terminology but also what the numbers mean for their lives?

There are three main phases for the project’s research. The first focuses on defining the frame for statistical literacy in the news. The second phase involves longitudinal studies with news audiences to shed light on the relationship between people’s news exposure and their statistical literacy. Following this, the third phase focuses on iterative testing of various approaches that the PBS NewsHour team will develop to improve the public’s statistical and data literacy. The project will culminate in a symposium to share the most promising of these approaches, along with a best practices brief, with other journalists.

The STEM Education Evaluation Center (SEEC) at TERC provides the project’s external evaluation, serving as “critical friends” throughout the project and supporting the rigor of the project’s research. SEEC will also conduct a summative evaluation of the project’s dissemination efforts with journalists.