SIMULATION IN R FOR IMPROVING THE UNDERSTANDING OF STATISTICS CONCEPTS IN SOCIAL SCIENCES. EXAMPLES OF DIDACTIC UNITS
From elementary schools to university colleges educational programs include statistics concepts. The ability to understand, interpret, and critically evaluate research findings is becoming an essential competence. Important efforts have been made to improve instructional methods for teaching/learning; however, we must recognize that some concepts are difficult to teach and to understand; statistical power, probability distribution, hypothesis testing or inferences notions are not intuitive.
Several authors defend that simulation may be a powerful and promising tool that can be useful in teaching statistical ideas. Simulation means making a simplified representation of an original model, by constructing experiments to facilitate understanding of the topics in fully controlled learning contexts. Simulation 1) allows the teacher to use non-formal approaches, 2) brings creativity to the classroom, and 3) offers one approach to employing active learning in the classroom.
The emergence of R, and the packages RCommander and TeachingDemos define one unique working environment with tools for data analysis, simulation and teaching/learning. R is free and flexible properties which make it highly suitable for teachers and the students who need to learn statistics. R is free, versatile and it is distributed under public licence which makes it the perfect choice for teachers and students tackling understanding statistical concepts.
The aim of this paper is to show some of the functions and advantages of simulation as a resource in teaching, and to put forward some didactic units for its implementation in classroom.