A view in statistics education that probability is just part of mathematics is as damaging to learning in statistics as the view that statistics is a subset of mathematics. Concepts and models of uncertainty and variability are at the heart of statistical thinking and analysis. The view tends to come about when initial concepts of probability are not progressed sufficiently towards statistical modelling nor integrated with real contexts and data. An associated problem is overly narrow or excessive pursuit of some early aspects of probability which may be hands-on for children but which become artifical and contrived as students develop. This paper outlines some of the problems and challenges and proposes some approaches to the development, at school and university levels, of probabilistic thinking integrated with, and at the heart of, statistical thinking, modelling and problem-solving in real contexts with real data.
Keywords: Statistical thinking; Probabilistic thinking; Real contexts and data; Problem-solving
Biography: Helen MacGillivray is a Professor in Mathematical Sciences and Director of Learning Support in Mathematics and Statistics at QUT. Helen's university teaching and curriculum design experience of more than 35 years extends across all levels, class sizes and most disciplines. She has received many grants and awards for teaching and was one of the first Australian Learning and Teaching Senior Fellows. She is President of the International Association for Statistical Education, and an Honorary Life Member and past-President of the Statistical Society of Australia and of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Council. Helen has published widely and presented many invited national and international papers and seminars. She has chaired reviews of university departments and centres, and held UK secondment, fellow and consultant positions. She has also played key roles in school mathematics and statistics education, including recently writing the statistics and probability materials for teachers for Australia's national curriculum.