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Presentation 2D3. The Effects of Some Teaching Techniques on Learning Statistics

Gianfranco Galmacci (Italy)
Anna Maria Milito (Italy)


Presentation Abstract

During the last two years a group of Italian researchers has carried out a national project on teaching statistics, funded by the Ministry for the Universities and for Scientific and Technological Research (MURST) and by the Universities of Padova, Palermo, Perugia and Roma "La Sapienza".

The project was mainly aimed at studying the efficacy of different approaches to teaching statistics at every school level: elementary (6-10 years old), intermediate (11-14) and high schools (15-19). After a preliminary study, concerning both teaching approaches used by teachers and available textbooks, it has been realized that statistics was generally presented by focusing on the main theoretical (mathematical) aspects without considering its practical relevance and the interpretation of results. Then, taking into consideration that the understanding of the role of statistics and the introduction of its basic concepts can be made easier by using real data concerning situations in which students are interested, new experimental teaching materials have been prepared using the so called Data Oriented Approach (DOA).

The aim of the project was to study how different teaching strategies (experimental factors) influence the students' learning process. The strategies proposed, always based on DOA, were different depending on the school level: concept mapping and didactic skills for elementary schools, traditional teaching and Cooperative Learning pedagogical model (CL), for intermediate schools, and finally, traditional teaching, the traditional teaching being integrated with Lab activities, and Cooperative Learning plus Lab activities, for high schools.

Teachers, after a training of 20-45 hours (depending on school level and strategy) experimented with the various modules in their classes for approximately 20 hours. The students' learning process was monitored with tests specifically designed to assess their knowledge and practical abilities. This experiment involved globally 324 classrooms and more than 6000 students in 5 different regions of Italy.

We are to processing the data. Some preliminary results can be summarized as follows:

- Teachers were generally enthusiastic about this experience and students (mainly those who had problems with the most theoretical parts of mathematics) seem to have rediscovered some interest in that discipline.

- High school students who attended modules with Lab activities seemed to reach a better level of knowledge and ability.

- Cooperative Learning made no improvement in the learning process of high school students, while the results for intermediate schools show that sometimes CL gives better results than DOA, sometimes worse.

- A comparison of the achievement tests of elementary school students who followed the concept maps strategy with the tests of those who followed only the DOA didactic approach revealed that on the whole the results from traditional DOA teaching are slightly better than those from concept maps teaching. However, some results of more conceptual items are better from pupils that had concept maps teaching.

The definite results will be included in our final paper.


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