On the formalist view of mathematics: impact on statistics instruciton and learning


In the paper, we argue that the persistence of students' difficulties in reasoning about the stochastic despite significant reform efforts in statistics education might be the result of the continuing impact of the formalist mathematical tradition. We first provide an overview of the literature on the formalist view of mathematics and its impact on statistics instruction and learning. We then re-consider some well-known empirical findings on students' understandingof statistics, and form some hypotheses regarding the link between student difficulties and mathematical formalism. Finally, we briefly discuss possible research directions for a moreformal study of the effects of the formalist tradition on statistics education.