An investigation of statistical thinking in two different contexts: Detecting a signal in a noisy process and determining a typical value
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Citation of Original PublicationGroth, R.E. (2005). An investigation of statistical thinking in two different contexts: Detecting a signal in a noisy process and determining a typical value. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 24(2), 109-124.
The study describes students’ patterns thinking for statistical problems set in two different contexts. Fifteen students representing a wide range of experiences with high school mathematics participated in problem-solving clinical interview sessions. At one point during the interviews, each solved a problem that involved determining the typical value within a set of incomes. At another point, they solved a problem set in a signal-versus-noise context (Konold & Pollatsek, 2002). Several patterns of thinking emerged in the responses to each task. In responding to the two tasks, some students attempted to incorporate formal measures, while others used informal estimating strategies. The different types of thinking employed in using formal measures and informal estimates are described. The types of thinking exhibited in the signal-versus-noise context are then compared against those in the typical value context. Students displayed varying amounts of attention to both data and context in formulating responses to both problems. Suggestions for teachers in regard to helping students attend to both data and context when analyzing statistical data are given.