Scientific Program > Topic 6 > Session 6D >
Presentation 6D2. Investigation Questions and the Path to Statistical Understanding

Nancy C. Lavigne (USA)
Susanne P. Lajoie (Canada)


Presentation Abstract
Statistics have become an integral part of individuals' formal and everyday lives. Experiences that help learners make sense of statistical information are needed so that they can make informed decisions. The view of statistics as a decision-making tool can be emphasized in project-based environments, where students investigate problems that require formulating questions and collecting, analyzing, and representing data to address these questions. Producing investigations in collaboration with peers and presenting results to classmates requires that students articulate the understanding that formed the basis of making particular design decisions. In this paper, we present findings suggesting that the content that the middle school students participating in our study understood was a byproduct of the questions they investigated. In this sense, investigation questions can lead students to diverse learning experiences and thus, to different paths of statistical understanding. Because of these different opportunities, ongoing assessments are needed to examine students' learning at various points in the instruction. Such assessments provide the means for examining the development of students' understanding. The different content emphases produced by various types of investigation questions also require a careful design of assessment criteria such that particular concepts are not over-emphasized. Open-ended tasks, such as projects, allow students to express their thinking in a variety of ways. Assessments must therefore be designed to capture the variability of this thinking and used to inform instruction.


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