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Experimenting new teaching strategies for learning statistics

In this project, co-fundend by the Ministry of Education, University and Reaseach in 1998, an experimentation of different teaching strategies for the learning of basic concepts of  descriptive statistics at all school level has been planned and made.

The experimentation, carried out in four Italian Regions (Latium, Sicily, Umbria, and Veneto), involved:

- 145 teachers and 2,129 pupils of primary school;

- 77 teachers and 1,514 pupils of lowersecondary school; 

- 103 teachers and 2,130 pupils of upper secondary school.

The teaching approach planned for the experimental activity was constituted by learning modules which, with respect to subject contents, were all based on a "data oriented" approach, whereas they differed in their presentation to the class. 

The assessment of learning effectiveness of the teaching strategies experimented was made both in terms of the general attitude towards Statistics and of the development of concepts, also taking account of the influence of factors such as teacher's experience, type of school, environmental context, individual student's curriculum, etc.
Several assessment instruments have been produced for this aim: for teachers (schedules, interviews, observation grids, experimentation notebook) and for students (tests administered at the beginning, during, and after the experimental period).

At this point, we can claim that this research is undoubtedly one of the most significant initiatives in the field of experimental education, and surely the most remarkable in the field of statistics teaching, in regard
to the number of the pupils involved, to the interest it has arisen, expressed not only by the teachers' individual commitment, but also by the school structure (in most cases this experimentation has been included in the school projects).
Moreover, at International level, with this experience our Country joins the most advanced ones, where research in this field has been established for long time.

The main objectives of this engagement have been to:
- determine an effective educational approach to introduce statistics in its specificity and not as a whole of abstract mathematical instruments;
- outline training courses taking account of the actual scientific knowledge, and interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity;
- prepare educational materials for a correct introduction to statistical reasoning;
- arrange instruments for the assessment of specific innovating action in the overall training process.

The work carried out up to now confirms the importance of statistics as a school subject, on condition that its teaching reflects its nature. Statistics provides methods and instruments to read real world phenomena, places the school in the context of everyday life, so giving a concrete environment for the learning process.

 

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