In this paper we seek to add to a scholarly dialogue concerning the arguments for and against integrating selected qualitative research approaches in traditional introductory statistics courses. Given recurring concerns about students' motivation, achievements, and eventual understanding of the role of (quantitative and qualitative) data in providing answers to real-world problems, we look beyond the strict borders of the discipline of statistics. We advocate a guided exposure of learners to qualitative methods based on a 'triangle model' of context, demands of the learning process, and learners' acquired knowledge and skills. Some of our arguments pertain to expectations and needs of learners and their prospective employers; emerging knowledge regarding the nature and complexity of the learning of statistics; and the structure of real-world data-based queries. The model points to a need for a broad multi-method-grounded knowledge as well as communicative and interpretive skills that are not being developed in many introductory statistics courses.
Keywords: Learning of statistics; Qualitative research approaches; Traditional introductory statistics courses
Biography: Irena Ograjenšek is Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Economics. Her research interests include application of qualitative and quantitative research methods in business (with special focus on marketing, especially customer data analysis and survey measurement of customer and employee loyalty, customer and employee satisfaction, as well as service quality); issues of sustainability (with special focus on measurement of ecological and motivational capital both in manufacturing and service sector); and new approaches to teaching statistics as a service course (with special focus on statistics for business and economics as well as e-learning). She is the current President of the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS) and Vice President of the International Association for Statistical Education (IASE).