Statistical Reasoning BEFORE Statistical Methods

“Recent research suggests that before delving into educating students about statistical methods, statistical literacy, thinking, and reasoning training is needed. In fact, studies have shown that a knowledge base in statistical literacy, reasoning, and thinking is needed for understanding published research (delMas, Garfield, Ooms, & Chance, 2007).”

Full article here.

The cited article actually talks more about a test developed to test conceptual understanding rather than methods (and the very small gains seen on it). It’s worth reading though — people who are otherwise scholarly walk around shaking their heads that our students do so poorly, but few people look in the research to benchmark our progress against others. Our progress is actually fairly typical.

And an interesting note in the article, given the focus of our Fall class:

Students appear to have good informal intuitions or understanding of how to compare groups. However, the belief that groups must be of equal size to make valid comparisons is a persistent misunderstanding for some students.

I love me a well-documented misconception. We’ll keep an eye out for it.

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