Interpretation of Statistical Data: The Importance of Affective Expressions

Tamires Queiroz, Carlos Monteiro, Liliane Carvalho, and Karen François

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.