Elite Research Scholarships

Probability Understanding in the Middle School Enhanced by Technology (PUMSET!)

Probability Understanding in the Middle School Enhanced by Technology (PUMSET!)

At the Middle School level students move from experiencing probability from a frequency perspective (the number of favourable outcomes in an “experiment” made up of a number of trials, divided by the number of trials) to experiencing it from a theoretical perspective (using counting techniques and sample spaces). Research has shown that students find the link from the concrete (frequency) to the abstract (theoretical) difficult but that software simulation is a tool that can assist in the transition from hands-on materials used in the classroom to the world of theory (Ireland & Watson, 2009). The new development of the “Sampler” as part of the TinkerPlots software package offers an easy-to-understand simulator that has been trialled on a small scale in Tasmania, as well as by its creators in the US. As the National Mathematics Curriculum is implemented, with Statistics and Probability as one of its three strands, schools and teachers will be looking for technologies to assist students’ understanding in this area. Key Curriculum Press, publishers of TinkerPlots, are keen to be involved with researchers in schools and will provide the latest versions of the software for trialling. Working with the creator of TinkerPlots (Cliff Konold of the University of Massachusetts) will place one at the cutting edge of statistics education research. The methodology involved is likely to include detailed case studies of classes and students, and will suit those intimately interested in children’s developing understanding and intuitions in mathematics.

[Ireland, S., & Watson, J. (2009). Building a Connection between Experimental and Theoretical Aspects of Probability. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education.

More Information: http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/Research/
Contact: Professor Jane Watson
Jane.Watson@utas.edu.au
Phone: + 61 3 6226 2570