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Introducing the practice of statistics: Are we environmentally friendly?


Watson, JM and English, LD, Introducing the practice of statistics: Are we environmentally friendly?, Mathematics Education Research Journal, 27, (4) pp. 585-613. ISSN 1033-2170 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc.

DOI: doi:10.1007/s13394-015-0153-z


The practice of statistics is the focus of the world in which professional statisticians live. To understand meaningfully what this practice is about, students need to engage in it themselves. Acknowledging the limitations of a genuine classroom setting, this study attempted to expose four classes of year 5 students (n=91) to an authentic experience of the practice of statistics. Setting an overall context of people’s habits that are considered environmentally friendly, the students sampled their class and set criteria for being environmentally friendly based on questions from the Australian Bureau of Statistics CensusAtSchool site. They then analysed the data and made decisions, acknowledging their degree of certainty, about three populations based on their criteria: their class, year 5 students in their school and year 5 students in Australia. The next step was to collect a random sample the size of their class from an Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘population’, analyse it and again make a decision about Australian year 5 students. At the end, they suggested what further research they might do. The analysis of students’ responses gives insight into primary students’ capacity to appreciate and understand decisionmaking, and to participate in the practice of statistics, a topic that has received very little attention in the literature. Based on the total possible score of 23 from student workbook entries, 80 % of students achieved at least a score of 11.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:elementary school, graphical representations, measurement, statistical thinking, variation
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Watson, JM (Professor Jane Watson)
ID Code:103428
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP120100158)
Deposited By:Faculty of Education
Deposited On:2015-10-09
Last Modified:2017-11-10

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