PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING PROBABILITY AND STATISTICS

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"PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING PROBABILITY AND STATISTICS"

```					ICOTS 2, 1986: Dr. David Green

PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING PROBABILITY A N D STATISTICS
Dr. David Green
Loughborough University
U. K.

Our f i r s t session began with Ramesh Kapadia exploring t h e nature, philos-
ophy, and pedagogy of probability which provided us w i t h a theoretical
framework f o r our whole program. Any r i s k of t h i s session becoming
dominated by abstractions was quickly dispelled as Hans Schupp spoke
about teaching stochastics t o the middle years (grades 5-10), which is
where t h e seeds must be sown. The f i r s t session concluded with Joan
Garfield and Andrew Ahlgren reporting i n an entertaining and illuminating
way on t h e i r review of research and their efforts t o undertake a major r e -
search programme with college students. It is hoped t h a t t h e i r f u n d i n g
requirements can be met!

The second session began with Thomas Piazza perhaps upsetting t h e more
conservative b y advocating the teaching of statistics t h r o u g h data analysis
(on-the-job learning one could call i t ) . The iron curtain was rolled back as
we welcomed Jordan Stoyanov from Bulgaria. He has over the past 15 years
amassed a collection of more than 500 instances of t h e use of counter-
examples f o r teaching purposes. He promised not t o reveal them all, how-
ever! I closed this session b y reporting on my recent research on t h e
understanding o f randomness involving 1600 English children aged 7-11
years. Maybe you will be interested t o follow u p t h i s work i n y o u r own
country    -
it would be a nice collaborative venture.

The last session had j u s t two papers. F i r s t Ruma Falk reported on s t u -
dents' difficulties with conditional probabilities and then, with a related
theme, Manfred Borovcnik introduced us t o the important intuition of r e -
vising probabilities according t o new information, which neatly brought
together theory (or theories!) and practical (psychological) issues so
typical of work i n this area.

Although it may be possible t o teach statistical rules, statistical education
is primarily concerned with the f a r more d i f f i c u l t task of inculcating the
ability t o make judgements about selection and interpretation. 1 believe
t h a t no area o f education makes greater demands on both teacher and
learner.

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