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P. Aguilar Juárez, N. Lima

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXICO)
Conditional Probability and some important results around it, such as the total probability formula, independent events and Baye’s theorem, are central on a basic probability course included in the curriculum of many engineering programs. Those concepts are too abstract and their comprehension is difficult. Students usually confuse the concepts of conditional probability with that of probability of the intersection of events, perhaps because theoretically the difference between both probabilities is just the reference point and in problems resolution, some keywords are just which are helpful to identify the correct concept.

Based on our experience on both, educational psychology and probability teaching, we decided to explore a constructivist approach to introduce the students to the concepts mentioned above. This approach consists in the use of oriented exercises to help the students develop the concepts, making reference to simpler concepts like the rule of three, and only when the concept is really clear, proceed to present the mathematical formalization. The objective of this study was to assess a didactic sequence on the conditional probability topics with engineering students in a basic probability and statistics course.

To evaluate the benefits of the proposed strategy, we used a control group in which a traditional approach was used, beginning with the oral and formal explanation of the concepts to continue with series of exercises. The same series of exercises were presented to both groups in order to compare their performance. In this work we present the results of our experience.