Learning about statistics and statistics learning

Publisher:
Australian Association for Research Education
Publication Type:
Conference
Citation:
Reid, A. and Petocz, P. 2002 'Learning about statistics and statistics learning', AARE Annual Conference, Australian Association for Research Education, Brisbane, Australia, pp. internet-NA.
Issue Date:
2002
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In the last two decades, awareness of students' conceptions of learning has altered the way in which we approach student learning, teaching and academic development. More recently, such 'generic' ideas about learning are being challenged by research on learning in different disciplines. In this paper, we report on our investigations in the area of statistics. We establish connections between how students see statistics as a profession and how they go about learning in statistics. Our argument is based on the analysis of a series of interviews carried out with students of statistics, linking their conceptions of the profession with ideas about how they learn statistics. Statistics is only one subject area that we have investigated: others include music, theology, design and law. Each shows evidence of an overarching notion of professional work and its connection with learning. This Professional Entity is a manifestation of a strong relation between students' perception of professional work and their conceptions of the discipline and learning within that discipline. Our investigations have had a profound effect on our teaching and our work as academics. We explore the ways in which our discoveries about learning of statistics in particular, and professional areas generally, have changed our practice in teaching and academic work, and our approach to research. In this paper, we report our findings about statistics students' understanding oftheir subject area and how they go about learning. We also explore the extent to which our participants 'fit' within the outcome space, especially within the context of the Professional Entity. This report also serves as a case study of the ways in which our own view of research and research planning in higher education have developed using an initial phenomenographic methodology to frame our research practice and learning development activities. As we explore our students' learning of statistics, we learn about statistics learning and learning in general.
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