1 Universidade Federal de Pernambuco - UFPE (BRAZIL)
2 Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Free University of Brussels - VUB (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 698-705
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0271
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
Gal (2002) proposes a statistical literacy model comprised of knowledge elements (statistics and mathematical skills) and dispositional components (beliefs, attitudes and critical positioning). The levels of education and lack of access to situations that promote critical thinking make most of Brazilian population susceptible to reactions that threaten social life and civilizing practices (Engel, 2019). One of the factors that has been evidenced is the lack of learning about how to teach statistical content in the initial and continuing education of mathematics teachers. In Brazil, this statistical instruction model still prevails, based on techniques and procedures, as stated by Cazorla and Santana (2019). Gal (2019) argues that teaching statistics in context should prioritize the understanding of “big ideas” and put less emphasis on calculations and procedures.

In this paper, we discuss aspects of a study that investigated possibilities of developing the perspective of statistical literacy in the formation of teachers. The qualitative investigation was developed with a group of pre-service teachers who were students at a public state university in the Northeast region of Brazil. Five undergraduates accepted to participate, four of them were studying in the second year and one student was in the final year. The average age was 22 years old. Semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant in order to identify academic profile and knowledge about statistics. Interview included tasks based on statistical data. The interview was followed by seven group meetings with the participants. The material used involved contents from media publications related to contemporary daily life subjects, as a way to contextualize the discussion about statistics. Data collected from the semi structured interviews were transcribed verbatim. The qualitative content analysis of these protocols was based on an interpretative approach. The meetings were videoed. The analyses were based on the review of video materials and selection of significant extracts to analysed in more detail.

Analyses of interviews with participants suggested difficulties in develop more elaborate interpretations, due to the lack of understanding of mathematical and statistical concepts. The results indicated that when pre-service mathematics teachers refer to certain concepts, they did so superficially. On the other hand, their responses suggested potentialities for the understanding that the interpretation of statistical data, present in research information and results, does not necessarily require only a mathematical response in the form of a specific number. Regarding the analysis of the data collected during the meetings with pre-service teachers, we initially realized that they were closely linked to a statistical perspective as a part of Applied Mathematics, despite the difficulties related to mathematical concepts. This may perhaps explain the openness to using alternative strategies in interpreting statistical data, such as judgments and / or opinions. As the group meetings developed, we noticed that the undergraduates were improving the ability to reflect critically, demonstrating legitimacy in their positions.

In this paper we will discuss the research design of this qualitative study and results of the data analysis. With this investigation we argue about the added value of the development of statistical literacy as a tool for critical thinking.
Statistical literacy, pre-service teacher education, mathematics teacher.