Using examples to promote statistical literacy

Sue Gordon, Jackie Nicholas


Statistical literacy is portrayed by Gal (2002) as the ability to interpret, critically evaluate, and communicate about statistical information and messages. Effective teaching, which develops statistical literacy, is of prime importance for science undergraduates in diverse fields as many may become ‘consumers’ of statistical information rather than pursue further study to become statisticians. In this paper we present empirical data on why and how international university educators use examples to teach statistics in service courses, based on recent research (Gordon, Reid & Petocz, 2007). We outline Gal’s (2002) model of statistical literacy for data consumers, activated by five related knowledge bases with supporting dispositions, and relate the empirical findings to this model. We conclude that examples can be instrumental in the challenging task of motivating students studying statistics and connecting their study with their chosen disciplines and future professions.

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