Critiquing statistics: Technology for fostering reasoning about statistical investigation

American Educational Research Association
Lavigne, N. C., & Lajoie, S. P.
San Diego, CA

This paper describes an educational tool, Critiquing Statistics, that is designed to foster and facilitate reasoning about statistical investigations involving descriptive statistics (e.g., measures of central tendency and variability) in middle school. This tool is being developed as part of a large scale research project emphasizing statistical investigation where students generate a research question; collect, analyze, interpret, and represent data; and communicate results to peers. However, the objective of this particular tool is to provide students with a critiquing activity that enhances students reflection on their own statistical investigations and those of others. In this way, Critiquing Statistics is intended to promote self-assessment and learning as well as reasoning. Students are given opportunities to enhance their reasoning skills by critiquing statistical investigations performed by former students, after having conducted their own research. Discussions about what could be done better in the statistics projects is facilitated through technology that allows students to view digitized videotapes as well as appropriate data and graphics files. These discussions are guided by an understanding of assessment criteria for investigations, which the Critiquing Statistics environment opens up for public viewing. Students engage in small group discussions of these criteria and apply them to the projects they are required to assess. This activity thereby promotes dialogue about the appropriateness of statistical methods, data collection procedures, graphical representations, analyses, and interpretation of data. Such discussions can be used to build a community of scientific reasoners who share their knowledge, reasoning, and argumentation.