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Topic 5. Statistics Education and the Wider Society

Topic Convenor(s)

Helen MacGillivray (Australia)

Topic Abstract
It is reported that H.G. Wells once said that "Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write." The statistical sciences provide the underpinning for the analysis and communication of quantitative information involving variation, across all areas of society. As with other applications of mathematical thinking in the broad sense, statistics both gives and receives in its interaction with other areas. Possibly more than for any other discipline the interaction between statistical developers, users and recipients needs to closely influence and be influenced by, statistics education at all levels, recognizing that life-long learning is not just a cliche in statistics and that statistical understanding is a key enabler across modern society.

The sessions in this topic aim to explore the multi-faceted interactions between statistics education and the roles of statistics in key aspects of society. Like mathematics, statistics has the qualities and duties of transferability and enablement. And mathematics itself across all its levels, is an enabler for statistical understanding, development and hence education. The first two sessions in this topic aim to consider both mutual interests and contrasts in mathematics and statistics education, and the challenge of teaching statistical thinking. In the wide worlds of business and engineering, statistics education at all levels is not only increasingly important but also benefits greatly and often unexpectedly from constant interaction with statistical usage and real problems across these areas. For example teaching MBA's or consulting with engineers can feed back into statistics education right through undergraduate and into school education. Statistics and statistics education have long been of prime importance in health and life sciences, and must meet new challenges in these areas. In contrast, many statisticians are concerned about partial subjugation of statistics within information technology, and yet a key need in information technology is better identification and development of the quantitative educational aspects in this rapidly-changing area. The other two sessions in this topic reflect challenges for statisticians and statistical educators: how should the statistical profession help with the ongoing enablement of its members in such a diverse profession of such importance in society; and how and to what extent can statistics education incorporate social issues.


Session 5A Relationships with Mathematics Education Brian Greer (USA)
Session 5B Statistics Education - A Discipline in Itself or in Contexts? David Griffiths (Australia)
Session 5C Statistics Education in and for the Economic World of Business and Government Policy-Making Eric Sowey (Australia)
Session 5D Statistics Education and the Statistical Profession Neville Davies (UK)
Session 5E Statistics Education and the Engineering World Helen MacGillivray (Australia)
Session 5F Statistics Education and the World of Information Technology Gianfranco Galmacci (Italy)
Session 5G Statistics Education and the World of Life and Health Sciences Petter Laake (Norway)
Session 5H Including Social Issues in the Teaching of Statistics Jacky Galpin (South Africa)

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