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ERIC Number: EJ1068215
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1744-1803
Correcting Students' Misconceptions about Probability in an Introductory College Statistics Course
Khazanov, Leonid; Prado, Lucio
Adults Learning Mathematics, v5 n1 p23-35 Jun 2010
College students' misconceptions about probability are common and widespread. These misconceptions impede students' ability to make sound judgments in situations of uncertainty and master fundamental concepts of inferential statistics. In this paper the authors report the results of a study undertaken with the objective of correcting three common stochastic misconceptions within the framework of an introductory statistics course. Six instructors were recruited from an urban community college, along with their students. These instructors implemented a number of activities designed by one of the investigators and aimed at correcting the representativeness bias, the equiprobability misconception, and the outcome orientation bias. The purpose of the activities was to trigger cognitive conflict thereby leading students to bring out and correct their incomplete or erroneous concepts. Three of the instructors attended a workshop on misconceptions before implementing the activities; the other three implemented the activities without going through training. Instructors in the third (control) group did not implement any of the proposed activities and were not trained. An instrument designed by one of the investigators was used to measure the extent of students' misconceptions at the end of the semester in both treatment groups and the control group. The results show that trained instructors achieved significantly better outcomes than the control group in correcting two of the misconceptions: the representativeness bias and outcome orientation. By contrast, instructors who implemented the activities without being trained did not post better results than the control group in resolving any of the misconceptions. The results suggest that it is possible to improve students' conceptual understanding of probability and correct their misconceptions by targeting the misconceptions directly in an introductory college statistics course. They also suggest that training on misconceptions is critical in ensuring instructors' ability to successfully address students' erroneous concepts about probability.
Adults Learning Mathematics. 26 Tennyson Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7SA UK. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A