Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Eliciting and Deciphering Mathematics Teachers’ Knowledge in Statistical Thinking, Statistical Teaching, and Statistical Technology

Gu, Yu

Statistically skilled workers are highly demanded in today's world, which means we need high-quality statistics education. There has been a continuously increased enrollment of statistics students. At the college level, introductory statistics courses are typically taught by professors who often hold a strong qualification in mathematics but may lack formal training in statistics education and statistical analysis. Existing literature claims that a unique way of thinking--statistical thinking or reasoning--is essential when teaching statistics, especially at the introductory level. To elaborate and expand on the issue of statistical thinking, a qualitative study was conducted on 15 mathematics teachers from a local community college to discuss differences between statistics and mathematics as academic disciplines and exemplify two types of thinking--statistical thinking and mathematical thinking--among mathematics teachers who teach college-level introductory statistics. Additionally, the study also inspected mathematics teachers' pedagogical ideas influenced by each type of thinking, some of which were recognized as "pedagogically powerful ideas" that transcend students' conceptual understanding about statistics.

The study consisted of two online questionnaires and one interview. In the two online questionnaires, participants explored and rated five technology options for teaching statistics and self-evaluated their technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge. During the interview, participants solved nine statistical problems designed to elicit statistical thinking and addressed pertinent pedagogical questions related to each problem's statistical concept. A framework that hypothesizes aspects of mathematics teachers' statistical thinking and mathematical thinking in statistics was created, summarizing the prominent differences in problem-solving, variability, context, data production, transnumeration, and probabilistic thinking. Select responses from participating mathematics teachers were provided as examples of each type of thinking. Furthermore, it was revealed that mathematics teachers with a different type of thinking tended to cover different statistical topics, deliver the same statistical concept in different ways, and assess students' knowledge with different emphases and standards. This study's results have implications: if statistics is to be taught by mathematics teachers, statistical thinking is required to implement pedagogically powerful ideas for furthering meaningful statistical learning and to unveil the differences between statistics and mathematics.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Smith, J. Philip
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 1, 2021