BUILDING STATISTICIANS AT AN EARLY AGE – STATISTICAL PROJECTS EXPLORING MEANINGFUL DATA IN PRIMARY SCHOOL
Keywords:Primary school, Statistical projects, Group comparisons, Statistical inquiries with software
Since many decisions in politics, economics, and social sciences are based on statistics, statistical literacy is a key component for an active citizen. Statistical skills and statistical reasoning can already be enhanced in primary school. Therefore, not only in Germany, statistics is an element of the primary-school curriculum, which usually includes issues of posing questions, collecting data, and of drawing displays such as pie charts or bar graphs. But to engage students and to start building future generations of statisticians at an early stage, more challenging incentives should engage students in meaningful statistical inquiries. In this paper, we describe activities that are part of a larger, long-term project that investigates how and if teaching units can be designed for primary schools and what their effect on students at that early age is. We focus on specific activities that have been tested for students at age 10. The empirical results show that – beyond learning techniques and the use of software (TinkerPlots) – the students acquired a way of statistical reasoning about the posed problems. Besides the cognitive development, we also documented the affective impact of our course on the young learners, which was very good. Our studies corroborate that it is possible to lead students to sophisticated statistical activities such as comparing groups with the help of suitable software. Furthermore, a positive attitude towards statistics could be observed as a result of the course, which may be the basis for further success in learning statistics. All in all, we can pave the way to the future generation of statisticians already at an early age in primary school.
First published February 2020 at Statistics Education Research Journal Archives