• KELLY FINDLEY The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Statistics education, Disciplinary beliefs, Pedagogical beliefs, Graduate Teaching Assistants


Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) carry a substantial instructional role in introductory courses for many mathematics and statistics departments. As a result, many GTAs have first-hand influence on the initial statistical impressions of students from a range of disciplines. But as simultaneous learners of the discipline themselves, GTAs in statistics are still forming their conceptions of statistics and statistics instruction. Using multiple case study design, I conducted a longitudinal study with four, first-year statistics GTAs aimed at capturing their experiences and notions related to statistics. This paper highlights several important disciplinary perspectives and tensions expressed by the GTAs. In addition to examining their disciplinary notions, I also discuss noteworthy connections between the participants’ statistical perspectives and their pedagogical views for introductory statistics. Findings reveal that the participants struggled to reconcile how authentic statistical practice could be translated into the introductory curriculum. Implications for GTA training are discussed.


Abd-El-Khalick, F., Bell, R. L., & Lederman, N. G. (1998). The nature of science and instructional practice: Making the unnatural natural. Science Education, 82(4), 417–436.<417::AID-SCE1>3.0.CO;2-E

Ball, D., & Cohen, D. (1999). Toward a practice-based theory of professional education. In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (Eds.), Teaching as the learning profession (pp. 3–32). Jossey Bass.

Baxter Magolda, M. B. (1992). Knowing and reasoning in college: Gender-related patterns in students' intellectual development. Jossey Bass.

Bruner, J. S. (1960/2009). The process of education. Harvard University Press.

Capps, D. K., & Crawford, B. A. (2013). Inquiry-based instruction and teaching about nature of science: Are they happening? Journal of Science Teacher Education, 24(3), 497–526.

Chance, B., & Rossman, A. (2006). Using simulation to teach and learn statistics. In A. Rossman & B. Chance (Eds.), Working cooperatively in statistics edcuation, Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Teaching Statistics (ICOTS7), July 2–7, Salvador, Brazil. International Statistical Institute.

Chick, H. L., & Pierce, R. (2008). Teaching statistics at the primary school level: Beliefs, affordances and pedagogical content knowledge. In C. Batanero, G. Burrill, C. Reading & A. Rossman (Eds.), Teaching statistics in school mathematics: Challenges for teaching and teacher education. Proceedings of the Joint ICMI Study 18 and IASE Roundtable Conference, June 30–July 4, Monterrey, Mexico.

Cobb, P. (1999). Individual and collective mathematical development: The case of statistical data analysis. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 1(1), 5–43.

Cobb, G., & Moore, D. (1997). Mathematics, statistics, and teaching. The American Mathematical Monthly, 104(9), 801–823.

Corbin, J. & Strauss, A. (2008). The basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. SAGE Publications.

Davidian, M. & Louis, T. A. (2012). Why statistics? Science, 336(6077).

De Veaux, R., & Velleman P. (2008). Math is music: Statistics is literature – or, why are there no six year old novelists? Amstat News, 375, 56–58.

DeFranco, T. C., & McGivney-Burelle, J. (2001). The beliefs and instructional practices of mathematics teaching assistants participating in a mathematics pedagogy course. Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Conference of Psychology of Mathematics Education – North America. Snowbird, Utah.

Deshler, J. M., Hauk, S., & Speer, N. (2015). Professional development in teaching for mathematics graduate students. Notices of the AMS, 62(6), 638–643.

Diamond, A. H., & Stylianides, A. J. (2017). Personal epistemologies of statisticians in academia: An exploratory study. Statistics Education Research Journal, 16(2), 335–361.

Dolor, J. (2017). Investigating statistics teachers’ knowledge of probability in the context of hypothesis testing [Doctoral dissertation, Portland State University].

Eichler, A. (2008). Teachers’ classroom practice and students’ learning. In C. Batanero, G. Burrill, C. Reading & A. Rossman (Eds.), Teaching statistics in school mathematics: Challenges for teaching and teacher education. Proceedings of the Joint ICMI Study 18 and IASE Roundtable Conference, June 30–July 4, Monterrey, Mexico.

Engle, R. A., & Conant, F. R. (2002). Guiding principles for fostering productive disciplinary engagement: Explaining an emergent argument in a community of learners classroom. Cognition and Instruction, 20(4), 399–483.

Ernest, P. (1991). The philosophy of mathematics education. Falmer Press, Taylor and Francis.

GAISE College Report ASA Revision Committee. (2016). Guidelines for assessment and instruction in statistics education college report 2016. American Statistical Association.

Gardner, G. E., & Jones, M. G. (2011). Pedagogical preparation of the science graduate teaching assistant: Challenges and implications. Science Educator, 20(2), 31–41.

Please see the article for the complete list of references.






Regular Articles