This paper is from Session 8J: Evidence-based statistical practice
Full topic list
which comes under Topic 8: Research in statistics education

(Monday 12th, 14:00-16:00)

The role of external representations in understanding probabilistic concepts



In their role as statistics teachers, experts can easily fall into the trap of assuming that their students share the intuitions they have acquired about formal expressions in the course of decades of learning and hard work. There is strong evidence that statistically naive students do not share experts’ intuitions. Instead, it is argued that non-experts commonly hold at least two valid statistical intuitions that are helpful for understanding probabilistic concepts. One of these postulated intuitions, the ratio intuition, helps to solve different kinds of conditional probability problems and the other, the size-confidence intuition, conforms to the empirical law of large numbers and is helpful in understanding the impact of sample size in inference statistics. However, both of these intuitions seem to work well only with suitable external representations: static or dynamic frequency formats. Teachers are encouraged to exploit their students’ intuitions.