Predict! Teaching statistics using informal statistical inference

Makar, Katie (2013) Predict! Teaching statistics using informal statistical inference. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 69 4: 34-40.

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Author Makar, Katie
Title Predict! Teaching statistics using informal statistical inference
Formatted title
Predict! Teaching statistics using informal statistical inference
Journal name Australian Mathematics Teacher   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0045-0685
Publication date 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 69
Issue 4
Start page 34
End page 40
Total pages 7
Place of publication Adelaide, SA, Australia
Publisher Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Prediction. People engage in prediction everyday. Even though accurate values are unknown, we are not just making wild guesses when we predict. We base predictions on information we already have. If we want to predict who will win the Australian Open, we consider players' past records in other tennis matches and additional contextual information we know (like recent injuries). To predict how much time it will take to drive to the airport, we weigh up our previous experiences going to the airport, the anticipated traffic for that time of day, the distance to the airport and then possibly add some margin depending on the variability we might expect from heavy traffic or unexpected road works-and whether it would be disastrous to arrive late. We do not expect our predictions to be exact or even always correct, but we try and maximise the likelihood that they are.

Statistics is one of the most widely used topics for everyday life in the school mathematics curriculum. Unfortunately, the statistics that we teach focuses on calculations and procedures before students have a chance to see it as a useful and powerful tool. Researchers have found that a dominant view of statistics is as an assortment of tools (calculations and graphs). with few seeing it as a means to understand a complex world (Rolka & Bulmer, 2005).

In this article, informal statistical inference is introduced as an approach to teaching statistics. This idea has now been researched from primary school through university classrooms around the world (Arnold, Pfannkuch, Wild, Regan, & Budgett, 2011: English, 2011: Garfield & Zieffler, 20 12; Makar, in press). Informal statistical inference can help students better appreciate the usefulness of statistics for both everyday life and future careers. In the next section, informal statistical inference will be introduced and how it differs from the way we usually teach statistics. Next, a unit from a middle school classroom will be used to illustrate how the class were learning statistics while making informal inferences. Finally, some ideas will be provided for turning a regular statistics lesson into one that lets your students make inferences.
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Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Education Publications
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Created: Tue, 07 Jan 2014, 13:14:20 EST by Claire Backhouse on behalf of School of Education