CAREER: Exploring the Role of Variability as an Organizing Concept for the Teaching and Learning of Statistical Reasoning in Middle School

This CAREER project explores interrelated research questions: (1) What understandings of variability can provide conceptual support for the scheme of ideas that underlie statistical inference--making claims about a population on the basis of samples? (2) What conceptions about variability do students bring to study of data analysis and statistical reasoning in middle grades? (3) How can instruction support students in coming to develop understanding and skill in reasoning about variability?

Full Description: 

This CAREER project explores the role of variability as a central concept for organizing the teaching of statistical thinking to middle school students. The work addresses three interrelated research questions that frame and guide the project:

(1) What understandings of variability can provide conceptual support for the scheme of ideas that underlie statistical inference--making claims about a population on the basis of samples?

(2) What conceptions about variability do students bring to study of data analysis and statistical reasoning in middle grades?

(3) How can instruction support students in coming to develop understanding and skill in reasoning about variability?

The project is addressing these questions through content analysis of the variability concept as it is used in statistical reasoning, surveys of student thinking about the concept, and a series of design experiments aimed at enhancing student and teacher understanding of the concept. The project is producing guidance for design of curricula, instructional materials, and teaching strategies related to statistics in the middle grades.

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