Statistical Education Day at NZSA conference 2014

Wednesday 26 November 2014, Victoria University of Wellington

The joint NZ Statistical Association and Operations Research Society of NZ Conference 2014 contained a statistical education stream. This consisted of 8 presentations and a discussion. Abstracts and copies of the presentations are below. A brief outline of the discussion is below also. The conference website is here:

1. Statistics in the Middle Years: Evidence and Practice
Derek Smith and Robin Averill
This session will provide an overview and sample activities from two chapters of an exciting new book ‘Mathematics and Statistics in the Middle Years: Evidence and Practice’, aimed to support teachers at Years 7-10. The focus areas will include ways of describing statistical distributions (drawing from Pip Arnold and Maxine Pfannkuch’s chapter), and ways of enhancing students’ statistical literacy (drawing from the work of Sashi Sharma and three Auckland secondary school teachers). We will also introduce four values which are threaded through the book towards promoting equitable statistics and mathematics education (respect, developing leadership, community, and inclusion) and give a brief overview of the book, to be published in early 2015.  
2014 Stats ed conference presentation Years 7-10 book

2. Visualising Chance: a Pilot Study at the Introductory Level
Stephanie Budgett and Maxine Pfannkuch
In this presentation we report on a pilot study involving four students who had already completed an introductory probability course. Based on interviews with seven probabilists and the literature, we identified that conditioning and independence were difficult notions for students. Currently the students learn these notions of probability through numeric two-way tables, tree diagrams and mathematics. We designed two computer-based prototype tools: an eikosogram for visualising independence and a pachinkogram linked to an eikosogram for visualising conditioning. Working in pairs the students performed tasks using these software tools. Their thinking as they used the tools and their opinion on what they had learned was captured on audio- and video-tapes. Our research findings indicated that the visualisations have the potential to enhance students’ probabilistic reasoning. The students expressed a wish that their instruction had incorporated these visualisations, as they believed that the visuals assisted their understanding of probabilities, conditioning and independence. Resources here.

3. Doing Research that Matters
Rosemary Hipkins
In recent years New Zealand’s education system has been very well served by innovative and effective research in statistics education. I set out to explore how and why one research team funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) has been so successful in doing research that has led to real and sustained change in teaching and learning. In this session I’ll present my key findings, which have implications for future partnerships between researchers and teachers.  VUW Research that matters presentation

4. e-Learning Resources for Training in Official Statistics
John Harraway and Sharleen Forbes
A project developed jointly with the Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education at Plymouth University is producing Apps to improve and replace earlier written material from the Certificate in Official Statistics. We report on progress on two pilot Apps: Measuring Price Change with a focus on the CPI, and Comparing Populations over time, between countries and within countries including aspects of Demography. The Apps will be self-contained on a variety of IT platforms and accessible freely on the ISLP website. A prototype of the first App will be shown and a report on recent international cooperation presented. As well as training in Official Statistics the Apps could be used to enhance and motivate statistics teaching in schools. Forbes Harraway NZSA presentation

5. Developing Students’ Statistical Insight in Years 9 to 13
Michelle Dalrymple
Typical discussions among statistics teachers include questions like – What does statistical insight mean for our students? How do we help students develop their statistical insight? What do we look for in activities? In this workshop, I will share our thoughts and experiences in developing our students’ higher level thinking. Time permitting, I will also share some activities that have worked successfully in our classes.

6. Resources Useful for Teaching and Learning from Statistics New Zealand
Alan Keegan
We live in a data driven society. Teaching and learning of Statistics must be grounded in real data and context to continue to be relevant. You will be shown how to access a range of Statistics New Zealand resources that will make statistics more relevant for your learners. A focus will be on recent products that have become available. 2014 NZSA presentation StatisticsNZ Alan Keegan

7. The Public Misuse of Statistics
Bruce Welsh
Statistics are used by many people to justify their stands on issues and to make them appear knowledgeable. However, when these statistics are studied they often tend to be used incorrectly. I will give some examples including how the definition of poverty in NZ has been misused during the recent election to direct public opinion. The conclusion will be raising the question of who should be calling people/organisations to account for poor use of statistics. I am an architect with a love of maths and numbers. I am presenting as an outside commentator and not from a professional basis. NZSA Bruce Welsh

8. Review of Mathematics and Statistics in Senior Secondary
Geoff Gibbs
The Ministry of Education is initiating a review process: the Review And Maintenance Programme (RAMP). This is looking at the NZ Curriculum-derived materials that support the recognition of student achievement in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This review follows a significant investment of time and effort from the secondary sector over the last 4-5 years. The review will be looking at the effectiveness of these materials and their use – in particular the impact on classroom teaching and learning. This session will outline the review process and will provide opportunity for discussion. NZSA Geoff Gibbs

9. Open Discussion of the Country’s Current Needs in Statistical Education
Mike Camden

This is an open discussion about current needs and future opportunities for statistical education in NZ.

Outline of the discussion:

Much of the discussion was about BYODevices, at-risk students, and who is taking responsibility for providing access to the technology. If government funding does not cover the access needed for statistics, the provision shifts to parents and students. As software moves to running online, the software providers are in fact filling some of the hardware needs, with their servers. Some at-risk students lack the background needed for the context part of statistical work. Software with visual features will help build interest in contexts and in the devices needed for use of the software.

Software with graphics, like TinkerPlots and Fathom, will help build student interest in statistics in junior school.

We have an ongoing need for professional development for teachers of statistics.

The relationship between the mathematics and statistics sides of the learning area needs attention. Is the statistics easier, or more appealing, or adapting faster to the changing world?

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