This paper is from Session 7F: Factors that affect statistical literacy II
Full topic list
which comes under Topic 7: Statistical literacy in the wider society

(Monday 14th, 16:15-17:45)

Interpreting variation of data in risk-context by middle school students


  • Antonio Orta (Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, Mexico)



The aim of this research is to explore students’ reasoning concerning variation when they compare groups and have to interpret dispersion like/as a risk. In particular, we analyze in this paper the responses to one problem of a questionnaire administered to 80 ninth-grade students. The problem consists of choosing between two groups of data by comparing them; each one consisting of losses and winnings coming from a hypothetical game. The results show the difficulty students had in interpreting variation in a risk context. Although they identify the data group with more variation, it is not enough for interpreting the variation in terms of risk and making a rational decision. The psychological categories of risk-seeking and risk-aversion are used to explain the behavior of students who choose one game or another when they identify correctly the risk in each game. As a conclusion, it is suggested that more risk context situations should be studied.