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Plenary Session 3. Doing Research in Statistics Education: More than Just Data

Keynote Speaker

Jane M Watson (Australia)

Plenary Session Abstract

ICOTS covers all aspects of teaching statistic at levels from early childhood to people in the work place. Although not all reports at ICOTS would be considered 'research', it would be possible to conduct research in areas related to most of the reports presented here. This research might be based on data, collected in many ways, or it might be based on scholarly writing, placing current work in the context of a historical study or other work in the field. Although there are many avenues for conducting research, there are certain ingredients that are part of research studies. I want to illustrate some of these from the work in which I have been involved or which I have admired. I will be looking mainly at statistics at the school level, but similar questions and methods are relevant to all levels where statistics teaching and learning takes place.

Meaningful questions, appropriate methods, and scholarly reporting are the ingredients of research that will be most likely to have an impact on the field. Often classical methods-those that we teach to our students-are not appropriate for the questions that arise in relation to the people/students with whom we work or the topics with which we deal in doing research. Methods must be appropriate for the questions we want to answer: sometimes qualitative, sometimes quantitative, and sometimes a mixture. In reporting outcomes, it is also important to place our results in the context of what is happening elsewhere in the statistics education community.


Keynote Speaker Biography

Jane Watson is a Reader in Mathematics Education at the University of Tasmania where she overseas the training of pre-service teachers in mathematics at the primary, middle, and secondary school levels, and directs research projects related to the Chance and Data part of the school curriculum. Over the last decade she has played a major role in four nationally funded professional development projects for teachers in mathematics and statistics education, as well as 13 nationally funded research grants ranging from one to three years. Eight of these grants have focused on students' and teachers' understandings of Chance and Data and have included longitudinal understanding, the effect of collaboration on higher order thinking, and the effect of cognitive conflict on understanding. Current projects are studying understanding of variation and a model for an underlying construct of statistical literacy. Over the years she has published over 200 papers and other multi-media work, such as a CD-ROM, a web site on quantitative literacy in the newspaper, and a radio essay for national broadcast. Reports of her research have appeared in the major research journals in the field (e.g., Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Educational Studies in Mathematics, For the Learning of Mathematics, Mathematical Thinking and Learning, Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics), as well as having spinoffs for teachers in journals such as The Mathematics Teacher (published by the NCTM in the US) and Teaching Statistics (in the UK). In Australia, she was the winner of a prestigious Ian Clunies Ross National Science and Technology Medal in 1999 for her work in statistical literacy, using technology to reach teachers and students with the message that statistics in crucial for survival in today's society.

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