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Presentation 7D1. Simulation as a Tool to Develop Statistical Understanding

Gail Burrill (USA)


Presentation Abstract

Statistical reasoning is often presented as a variety of problems that are explained through a series of "tests" - usually leaving many students bewildered. One of the key elements that is missing from such treatment is building a foundation for understanding what statistical reasoning is and how it works. Simulations, made possible by technology such as graphing calculators, can provide students a conceptual basis for inference. Generating sampling distributions can help them analyze the behavior of a given statistic, explore whether a given observation is unlikely, investigate how changing sample size changes the distribution, explore different kinds of distributions and what makes them different, and give them a sense of how to reason from data. Examples from the world outside of the classroom illustrate how simulation can be a tool in making sensible decisions and give students opportunities to see why statistics is important.


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