Correlation and causal relationship in education

correlation and causal relationship in education

A correlation between two variables does not imply causation. On the other hand, if there is a causal relationship between two variables, they must be correlated. Taking music classes and school performance happen to rise in tandem because Observational studies cannot prove cause and effect, only. This animation explains the concept of correlation and causation. Is there a relationship between a person's education level and their health?.

Understand the Difference for Your Business While causation and correlation can exist at the same time, correlation doesn't mean causation. Product Marketing Manager Correlation and causation are two of the most important concepts to understand if you want to create growth.

Causal Relationship - 1. Introduction

Causality lets you change the future. What pizza and the germ theory of disease have in common A correlation is a relationship that you observe between two variables that appear to be related.

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Correlation vs. Causation: An Example

Until the late 19th century, it was believed by scientists and laypeople alike that bad odors caused disease. The sick and dying tended to smell unpleasant so the two phenomena were correlated.

However, it was only in that the germ theory of disease became accepted. With this, it became clear that while bad smells and disease often appeared together, both were caused by a third, hitherto unknown variable—the microscopic organisms we know as germs. Correlations are often mistaken for causation because common sense seems to dictate that one caused the other.

Examples for teaching: Correlation does not mean causation - Cross Validated

After all, bad smells and disease are both unpleasant, and always seem to appear at the same time and in the same places. But you can have a foul odor without a disease. To prove causation, you need to find a direct relationship between variables. You need to show that one relies on the other, not just that the two appear to move in concert. When it comes to your business, it is imperative that you make the distinction between what actions are related and what caused them to happen.

However, something about the information stuck with me. A few days later while listening to a data skeptic podcast it hit me: I had assumed that studying abroad caused students to have better grades and career prospects, when all the statistics showed was that the two were correlated.

correlation and causal relationship in education

Sometimes, especially with health, these tend towards the unbelievable like a Guardian headline claiming a diet of fish leads to less violence. The real explanation is usually much less exciting. For example, students who take music lessons may perform better in school, but they are also more likely to have grown up in an environment with a large emphasis on education and the resources needed to succeed academically.

These students would therefore have higher school achievement with or without the music lessons. Taking music classes and school performance happen to rise in tandem because they are both products of a similar background, but one does not necessarily cause the other.

Likewise, people who stay in school longer typically have more resources which also means they can afford better health care.

correlation and causal relationship in education

Most of the time these mistakes are not made out of a deliberate effort to deceive although that does occur but out of an honest misunderstanding of the idea of causation. What the statistics, especially those in the study abroad email, show is a selection bias. In each study, the individuals observed do not come from a representative slice of society, but instead are all drawn from similar groups, leading to a skewed result.

While it might be possible that studying abroad did somehow motivate lagging students to graduate on time, the more likely explanation is that students who choose to go abroad were those in a better position academically in the first place.

Statistical Language - Correlation and Causation

They would graduate on time with high GPAs regardless of whether they went to another country. It takes a lot of work and preparation to go to another country to study for a year, and the students who feel confident enough to do so are the ones who are on top of their studies.

In this real-world case, the selection bias is towards better students.

correlation and causal relationship in education

The sample of students who study abroad is not indicative of students as a whole, rather, it includes only the best-prepared students and therefore it is no surprise that this group has significantly better academic and career outcomes. The study abroad experience may look great in hindsight, but if we selected only the best students and had them do anything, it would be misleading to say the phenomenon led to better grades.

Correlation vs Causation: Understand the Difference for Your Business

Say for example we own a bottled water company and we want to gather some positive stats to help with sales. We hire a few students to stand outside the honors class and only give our water to the top students.

correlation and causal relationship in education

We then conduct a study that shows conclusively that students who drink our brand get better grades.