Bridging the gap between students and statistics: Cognition, affect, and the role of teaching method

American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Mickelson, W. T.
Chicago, IL

Traditionally, the introductory statistics course has been one of the most hated and feared courses on campuses across the country. Simon and Bruce (1991) lament, "probability and statistics continues to be the bane of students, most of whom consider the statistics course a painful rite of passage--like fraternity paddling--on the way to an academic degree..." Over the past 30 years, there has been an increase in the professional literature on how to teach statistics with a continuous call for reform of the introductory statistics course. Virtually every American Statistical Association (ASA) president, in the past 10 years, has addressed the topic of statistics education as a key issue affecting the status and image of statistics as a profession. It is rather interesting that, while many have examined the practice of teaching statistics, very little is known about how students learn statistical concepts and reasoning skills. In addition to presenting a review of the literature on what is known about how students learn statistics and an overview of the suggested classroom reforms, this talk begins to examine the extreme gap that clearly exists between the introductory student and the subject matter of the introductory statistics course.