Four things make a problem statistical: the way in which you ask the question, the role and nature of the data, the particular ways in which you examine the data, and the types of interpretations you make from the investigation. A statistics problem typically contains four components:
Asking a question gets the process started. It's important to ask a question carefully, with an understanding of the data you will use to find your answer.
Collecting data to help answer the question is an important step in the process. You obtain data by measuring something, so your measurement methods must be chosen with care. Sampling is one way to collect data; experimentation is another.
Data must be organized, summarized, and represented properly in order to provide good answers to statistical questions. Also, the data you collect usually vary (i.e., they are not all the same), and you will need to account for the sources of this variation.
After you analyze your data, you must interpret it in order to provide an answer -- or answers -- to the original question.
This four-step process for solving statistical problems is the foundation of all the activities in this course. You will become increasingly familiar with this process as you investigate different statistical problems.