Developing statistical literacy: Student learning and teacher education

Recent international and national mathematics curriculum guidelines indicate the development of students’ statistical literacy, at

different levels of schooling, as major educational aim. In Portugal, the current mathematics syllabus for basic education assigns an

increased emphasis on statistics and presents more demanding learning objectives in statistics, since the elementary levels. This is a

challenging situation for practicing teachers, requiring them to develop new perspectives and professional knowledge. In this context,

this project aims to study the development of students’ statistical literacy from elementary to secondary education with special

attention to two main issues: (i) the characterization of key aspects of students’ statistical literacy, particularly as regards the ability

to formulate questions, collect data and represent it to answer these questions, and (ii) to understand the development of statistical

and didactical knowledge to teach this subject.

Regarding the development of statistical literacy, the project assumes a key role on doing statistical investigations as this activity

tends to engage students in learning and promotes a holistic view of thinking, mobilizing knowledge in various areas, using complex

reasoning processes on a flexible way, and helping students to develop critical thinking. Regarding teacher education, the project

assumes the need to consider the conceptions, knowledge, and resources of teacher educators and of teacher education institutions,

the official regulations and educational policy, and the school and the social context as well as the conceptions, needs, and interests of

the participants. However, at the center of the teacher education process is the developing teacher, in close relation to his/her

professional practice.

The project is based on fundamental ideas about the curriculum guidelines for statistics, teaching, curriculum change processes,

learning processes related to statistics and the identification of significant resources for learning. This knowledge will support the

planning and development of teaching experiences in classrooms at different school levels, based on sequences of tasks and the use

of specific technological features. These teaching experiences adopt a collaborative work methodology with teams of academic

researchers and teacher-researchers who share their knowledge and sensitivity about the phenomena under study. The project also

relies on a review of studies on teacher education, particularly on the field of statistical and didactical knowledge for teaching and

teacher development in contexts of preservice and inservice teacher education. This knowledge will underpin the planning of courses

in preservice education of educators and elementary school teachers and inservice teacher education, as well as creating contexts of

collaborative work, in close collaboration with professional practice.

The project will use a design research in teaching and teacher education experiments, with a mix methods approach. Data is collected

by a variety of ways including interviews, observations, students’ notes, tests and questionnaires. Data analysis includes both

qualitative approaches as well as descriptive and inferential statistical techniques.

The project team is organized in four tasks and consists of seven senior researchers from four institutions of higher education, all with

extensive experience in teacher education. The team also includes seven PhD students and three masters’ students, who are teachers

or teacher educators, from various parts of the country, as well as a research assistant to hire. The team members are organized in

groups that meet regularly, and have a close link through electronic communication. All team members also participate in collective

working sessions and maintain regular contact with the activities of the project through the information and resources that are

published at the working plataform moodle. The results and resources that originate from the project’s work will be disseminated in

national and international contexts, through the publication of papers, a book, communications in scientific and professional meetings

and a seminar open to mathematics education community.

Duration: 

36months

Start date: 

Tuesday, 1 January, 2013

Area / Group: 

Probability and Statistics

Members: 

Rosa Antónia de Oliveira Figueiredo Tomás Ferreira

Financial support: 

90 000EUR