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ERIC Number: EJ848460
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 38
ISSN: ISSN-1570-1824
Understanding Students' Experiences of Statistics in a Service Course
Gordon, Sue
Statistics Education Research Journal, v3 n1 p40-59 May 2004
In this paper we explore issues surrounding university students' experiences of statistics drawing on data related to learning statistics as a compulsory component of psychology. Over 250 students completed a written survey which included questions on their attitudes to learning statistics and their conceptions of statistics. Results indicated that most students were studying statistics unwillingly. A minority of students acknowledged that statistics was necessary for psychology, but statistics was seen by many as boring or difficult. Students' conceptions of statistics were analysed from a perspective developed from phenomenography (Marton & Booth, 1997). The aim of phenomenographic research is to describe the qualitative variation in the ways people experience or conceptualise a phenomenon--in this case students' interpretations of the topic statistics. The conceptions fell into five categories of description including: statistics as decontextualised processes and algorithms, statistics as a tool for professional life and statistics as a way to self-development and enhanced perspectives on our world. Excerpts from interviews with selected students indicate the diversity of experiences in learning statistics. The perceptions of two teachers flesh out the learning and teaching environment. The findings raise challenges for supporting the learning of "occasional users" (Nicholls, 2001) of statistics in higher education. (Contains 2 tables and 1 figure.)
International Association for Statistics Education and the International Statistical Institute. PO Box 24070, 2490 AB The Hague, The Netherlands. Tel: +31-70-3375737; Fax: +31-70-3860025; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia