Primary school students' attitudes to and beliefs about probability
This chapter relates to the role of attitudes and beliefs in the teaching and learning of probability in schools. A study was conducted in which two Year 7 teachers in an Australian primary school and the students in their combined class participated in a teaching experiment. The study involved implementing a program of probability games and activities which aligned with both the Probabilistic Reasoning framework of Jones et al. (Stiff and Curcio (Eds.), Developing Mathematical Reasoning in Grades K-12, 1999 Yearbook, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Reston, 1999b), and the formal Year 7 curriculum. The program was designed to improve attitudes to probability, challenge beliefs about luck, and support the learning of probability concepts. Data were collected from students and teachers with respect to attitudes, beliefs, and understanding before and after the program. It was concluded that an activity approach to the teaching of probability improved students' attitudes to and beliefs about probability, at least in the short term. Students had a greater appreciation of the relevance of probability in the world around them and their superstitions about luck lessened. There was evidence of positive links between attitudes and understanding. It was noted also that a lack of prerequisite number skills impacted on students' motivation to remain involved. At the end of the study, teachers were more confident and enthusiastic about teaching probability in the future.
Williams, A. , Nisbet, S. (2014)., Primary school students' attitudes to and beliefs about probability, in E. J. Chernoff & B. Sriraman (eds.), Probabilistic thinking, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 683-708.
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