11th International
Conference on
Teaching Statistics
11–16 September 2022
Rosario, Argentina

Topic 6

Overcoming challenges of teaching probability and risk in statistics education



Roles of probability

1. Probability forms the basis and serves as justification for statistical inference.

2. Probability plays a key role in decision-making under uncertainty.

3. Probability is THE concept for describing uncertainty.

Questions are:

  • What are the usual challenges in teaching probability? Primitive misconceptions, archetypical thinking (focus on external patterns, on random patterns, on other persons’ behaviour, etc.). Misconceptions of concepts such as conditional probability. With statistical methods, misunderstanding conditional probabilities as unconditional. Language.
  • What are the challenges in teaching probability within current curricula? Today, curricula focus on either descriptive statistics/statistical literacy or on inferential statistics (simplified as in “Informal Inference”). What are minimal requirements in probability for understanding inferential methods? Should genuine probability applications in terms of reliability and risk be added to the curriculum?

Challenges are:

  • Which knowledge is needed for students to use probability in their daily lives?
  • Which activities are the best suited to teach probability? Which theories in the design of didactic activities allow the development of statistical thinking.
  • The value of Bayesian ideas, including revising information (by conditional probabilities) to foster understanding probability and statistical inference.
  • Decisions vs estimations. One-off decisions versus long-run behaviour of decisions. Decisions involve risk considerations. Are risk considerations necessary to understand probability?
  • Risk minimization: Teaching probability before and after the pandemic. Dealing with personal and societal risks. Varied and conflicting information affecting life decisions.
  • Early activities to establish probabilistic intuitions. Do we need probabilistic intuitions or can we replace that part by simulation and proceed directly to “Informal Inference”?
  • Training teachers at all levels to teach probability.
  • Which paradigmatic situations shape probability? This includes communicating probability information by graphs.

Research work at all school levels, teacher training, and university education are welcome. Studies that focus on the curricular role of probability within statistics education are of particular interest.