Journal Article

  •  A multi-year study investigated the impact of incorporating student-directed
    discovery projects into introductory statistics courses. Pilot instructors at institutions
    across the United States taught statistics implementing student-directed projects with
    the help of a common set of instructional materials designed to facilitate such
    projects. Researchers measured the impact of these projects on student learning and
    on students’ attitudes and beliefs about statistics. Results of the quantitative analyses
    are shared, with subsequent discussion of their implications. Findings suggest that
    inclusion of student-directed research projects in introductory statistics can lead to
    greater statistics self-efficacy and improved statistical knowledge in specific domains.
    Additional analyses suggest that these student benefits may improve as their
    instructors gain more experience facilitating such projects.

  • The purpose of this study is to adapt the Survey of Attitudes Towards Statistics
    (SATS-36) for Estonian secondary school students in order to develop a valid
    instrument to measure students’ attitudes within the Estonian educational context.
    The SATS-36 was administered to Estonian-speaking secondary school students
    before their compulsory statistics course. Because the fit indices for confirmatory
    factor analysis did not indicate a good fit, an exploratory factor analysis was
    conducted to find a new model. It validated a four-factor structure of the scale,
    excluding nine items. Good indices for both reliability and validity were obtained.
    Trends in secondary school students’ attitudes were also examined to investigate the
    effects of gender and gender combined with the level of education. Results showed
    that students tended to feel rather positively about statistics at the beginning of the
    course. All four factors displayed differences between boys and girls. Comparison of
    lower and upper secondary level students showed that students from the upper
    secondary level value statistics more highly. The authors recommend SATS with some
    small proposed changes to make it even more suitable for the secondary level.

  • Full Fact is an independent, non-partisan fact-checking charity. A particular
    focus is the analysis of factual claims in political debate in the UK; for example, fact checking claims and counterclaims made during Prime Minister’s questions. Facts do
    not appear in a vacuum as they are often used as key elements in an effort to make a
    coherent argument. This paper describes a number of case histories where facts are
    disputed, drawn from our election work, to give an overview of the contemporary
    state of statistical literacy among politicians and the media. Common pitfalls in
    politicians’ claims are set out, along with descriptions of our attempts to close the
    communication gap between different communities.

  • Statistical literacy is complex and multifaceted. In every country, education and
    numeracy are a function of a multitude of factors including culture, history, and
    societal norms. Nevertheless, since the launch of the International Statistical Poster
    Competition (ISLP) in 1994, a number of patterns have emerged to suggest there are
    some common or universal success factors in running statistical literacy competitions
    involving schools, universities, statistical offices, and many other institutions. This
    paper outlines some of those factors, such as institutional cooperation, celebrating
    participation and success, improvement of statistical literacy in the local schools,
    support for teachers, the involvement of national statistics institutes, and use of
    technology. These factors have been identified from our own experience running the
    competition and from articles submitted to the ISLP newsletters. Statistical literacy is
    a complex phenomenon, and so this is neither an exhaustive list of key factors nor a
    formula for success, but rather an overview of recurring themes across countries
    participating in the competition around the world.

  • Statistical literacy increasingly is considered an important outcome of schooling.
    There is little information, however, about appropriate expectations of students at
    different stages of schooling. Some progress towards this goal was made by Watson
    and Callingham (2005), who identified an empirical 6-level hierarchy of statistical
    literacy and the distribution of middle school students across the levels, using
    archived data from 1993-2000. There is interest in reconsidering these outcomes a
    decade later, during which statistics and probability has become a recognised strand
    of the Australian mathematics curriculum. Using a new data-set of over 7000 student
    responses from middle-years students in different parts of Australia during the period
    2007-2009, the nature of the hierarchy was confirmed. Longitudinal analysis
    identified how students performed across time against the hierarchy. Suggestions are
    made for systems and teachers about realistic expectations for middle-years students,
    and possible curriculum challenges.

  • In recent years, research on teaching and learning of statistics emphasized that
    the interpretation of data is a complex process that involves cognitive and technical
    aspects. However, it is a human activity that involves also contextual and affective
    aspects. This view is in line with research on affectivity and cognition. While the
    affective aspects are recognized as important for the interpretation of data, they were
    not sufficiently discussed in the literature. This paper examines topics from an
    empirical study that investigates the influence of affective expression during the
    interpretation of statistical data by final-year undergraduate students of statistics and
    pedagogy. These two university courses have different curricular components, which
    are related to specific goals in the future professional careers of the students. The
    results suggest that despite differing academic backgrounds in both groups, the
    participants’ affective expressions were the most frequent type of category used
    during the interpretation of research assignments.

  • Statistical information pervades everyday life in the twenty-first century.
    Research shows, however, that the skills needed to be able to understand and
    critically evaluate statistical information must be specifically taught. In 2013, an
    externally assessed National Certificate in Educational Achievement standard in
    statistical literacy was introduced for the first time in New Zealand. A small
    exploratory study investigated a possible teaching approach designed to enable Year-
    13 students (aged 17-18) to critically evaluate media reports. Findings suggest that
    the learning trajectory required several key components including media reports as
    both a motivational and conceptual development tool. In addition, computer
    visualizations and procedural scaffolds appeared valuable tools for facilitating
    conceptual understanding of the margin of error.

  • Opening Real Science (ORS) is a three-year government initiative developed as
    part of the Mathematics and Science Teachers program. It is a collaboration across
    universities involving teacher educators, scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and
    educational designers aimed at improving primary and secondary pre-service
    teachers’ competence and confidence in mathematics and science. The ORS project
    has developed 25 online learning modules for pre-service teacher programs.
    Statistical literacy is prioritised. The Statistical Literacy Module for Primary
    Teachers (SL-P) adopts an inquiry-based approach and uses resources and contexts
    relevant to their practice. This paper documents the development and evaluation
    process of SL-P from its conception to implementation, and reviews the initial trials .

  • The issue of poor statistical literacy amongst undergraduates in the United Kingdom is well documented. At university level, where poor statistics skills impact particularly on social science programmes, embedding is often used as a remedy. However, embedding represents a surface approach to the problem. It ignores the barriers to learning that students bring to class, which may not always be addressed solely through embedding, such as, mathematics anxiety. Instead, embedding can only work within a much deeper pedagogic model that places students at its heart, as active participants in learning. This paper examines the development of such a model within a large sociology programme, where there was an implementation of a range of pedagogic strategies to support the development of students’ statistical literacy.

  • In British social science degree programmes, methods courses have a bad press,
    and statistics courses in particular are not well-liked by most students.

    A nationally coordinated, strategic investment in quantitative skills training, Q-Step, is an attempt
    to address the issues affecting the shortage of quantitatively trained humanities and
    social science graduates. Pedagogic approaches to teaching statistics and data
    analysis to social science students are starting to indicate positive outcomes. This
    paper contributes to these debates by focusing on the perspective of the student
    experience in different learning environments: first, we explain the approach taken at
    the University of Manchester to teaching a core quantitative research methods
    module for second-year sociology students; and second, we introduce case studies of
    three undergraduates who took that training and went on to work as interns with
    social research organisations, as part of a Manchester Q-Step Centre initiative to
    take learning from the classroom into the workplace.