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Emergent ideas of chance and probability in primary grade children


Book: 
Reflections on statistics: Learning, teaching and assessment in grades K-12
Authors: 
Metz, K. E.
Editors: 
LaJoie, S. P.
Type: 
Category: 
Pages: 
149-174
Year: 
1998
Publisher: 
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Place: 
Mahwah, NJ
Abstract: 

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has recommended that we incorporate chance and probability as a thematic strand throughout children's formal schooling, beginning at the kindergarten level. This recommendation comes at a time when there is little agreement concerning the psychology of chance and probability. This is particularly disconcerting, given the importance now given to building on children's intuitions in the instructional process. The chapter addresses these issues as they involve the successful implementation of the K-4 statistics and probability standard, through an analysis of releveant research literatures. These literatures indicate that primary grade children have a number of intuitions that are directly relevant to statistical instruction. These include intuitions about relative magnitude and part/whole relations, incertitude and indeterminancy, the likelihood of a given event and, much more limited, intuitions about expected distrubutions of outcomes. The chapter also considers challenges to primary grade children's reasoning in this sphere that instruction needs to address, including conceptual gaps such as the idea of patterns in outcomes over the long haul, the restructuration and elaboration of children's intuitions, raising the meta-level of children's knowledge, and the issue of appropriate application.

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