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An analysis of the teaching of introductory statistics at university in 'context'

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posted on 12.06.2019, 08:02 by Helen Harth
In this research study I explore the teaching of introductory inferential statistics to non- statistics undergraduates. My main aim in this work is a characterisation of teaching practice in the context of two introductory statistics university modules, one aimed at Psychology students and another at Engineering students from the perspective of the lecturers.
In the pilot study, I investigated lecturers’ beliefs about intended statistics curricula at university. The study used repertory grid interviews with twenty statistical methods lecturers. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis revealed that lecturers conceptualised the intended curricula around three themes: (1) teaching of statistics with “context”, (2) teaching the statistical process components, and (3) student learning.
The main study focused on the teaching of statistics on two introductory modules. Ob- servational and interview data was interpreted at the macro and micro levels of analysis using sociocultural theory as a theoretical lens and applying a grounded analytical approach. In- troductory statistics modules are taught in a range of disciplines, including Psychology and Engineering. Previous research shows that some students find statistics very difficult and challenging. The two lecturers, although approached the teaching of statistics very differ- ently, had a deep concern for their students’ learning. The first lecturer, a Psychologist, approached the teaching of statistics in a ‘philosophical’ way meaning that the explanations were non-mathematical and there was a sequence of cases or “contexts” which the lecturer taught in different ways throughout the module. The second lecturer, a Mathematician, taught a ‘typical’ statistics module consisting of the mathematical underpinnings of statistical models through a sequence of statistical theory and calculations.
Through this research, I provided representations into the lecturers’ beliefs, intentions and strategies in relation to their teaching. The application of the sociocultural lens with a grounded analytical approach enabled me to conceptualise the lecturers’ teaching actions and present a model of teaching statistics in context.


Loughborough University (Ph.D. grant)





Mathematical Sciences


Loughborough University

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© Helen Harth

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.




Barbara Jaworski ; Carol Robinson

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