Teaching with Examples and Statistical Literacy: Views from Teachers in Statistics Service Courses

Sue Gordon, Jackie Nicholas


Statistical literacy is essential for science students as a tool in their professional lives as well as an essential competency for their citizenship in the contemporary world. Reforms in teaching statistics call for pedagogy that addresses the links between statistics as a topic of study and evaluating and communicating about data in the field. In this paper we present a model of statistical literacy (Gal, 2002) and relate it to university statistics teachers’ reports about their pedagogy. One core practice is to use examples in instruction, yet teachers’ goals for using examples tend not to be well articulated. We categorise how teachers use examples, drawing on data from an empirical investigation on teaching service statistics at university. Three overlapping categories are proposed: examples are developed and presented by educators in basic instruction, examples are generated by students, under teacher direction, and examples connect statistics with students’ future professional work. We present excerpts from three statistics educators in the sciences to illustrate further how respondents promote statistical literacy in their teaching. We relate the ways teachers use examples to Gal’s (2002) model to provide a framework for enhancing pedagogical development and to address challenges of engaging science students in learning statistics.

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