1 Federal University of Pernambuco - UFPE (BRAZIL)
2 Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Free University of Brussels - (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 706-712
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0272
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper discusses possibilities of understanding the perspective of probabilistic literacy in teacher education. In Brazil, educators and researchers in the field of statistics education have taken on a challenge to develop and disseminate studies related to the teaching and learning of statistics, probability and combinatorics, as mathematics school topics. Gal (2004, 2005) presents a probability literacy model comprised of two types of elements: (i) cognitive and (ii) dispositional components. Probability literacy is important because it could enable people to understand concepts such as sampling and inference, in order to enhance critical citizenship. Statistical literacy and probability literacy may never have been so necessary in Brazil, especially due to the dissemination of news and arguments that are not based on scientific evidence (e.g., fundamentalist opinions and fake news).

The qualitative investigation was developed with in-service mathematics teachers from a private school in the Northeast region of Brazil. The mathematics teachers belong to ‘continuing education teacher group’ who met periodically to improve their knowledge and abilities to teach mathematics. The group of participants was composed of five teachers who are working in the 6th to 9th grade (11-14 years old) with an average age of 41 years old. Three of them had more than 20 years of experience as a mathematics teacher, the other two had about 9 years of experience. We began data collection process conducting a semi-structured interview with each teacher to identify knowledge about probability and perspectives on the teaching of the topic. During the interview each participant carried out made analyses of tasks about probability contents. A further stage was developed over 6 meetings with all participants, in which aspects of probabilistic literacy and how to teach the subject was further discussed. The meetings were coordinated by a researcher who maintained a constructive dialogue with participants during the meetings, and afterwards kept in touch with them by using a message app.

After analysing the data, we can argue that during the series of meetings, teachers were improving their understanding of the concepts of probabilistic literacy. One strategy that seems to have contributed to this was the resumption at each meeting of the elements and responses that the teachers gave at the time of the interview. For example, during the interview, the researcher asked about the concept of probability. The teachers gave incomplete answers about that concept. Therefore, during the meetings the teachers were asked to reflect on their answers, and they were invited to review the responses. We will argue that was noticeable that in the course of the meetings, teachers improved their understanding about the concept of probability and about a critical teaching approach of this curricular content. The mathematics teachers were able to realize the importance of probability literacy in decision making and for a critical citizenship. The results suggested that an important strategy on these teacher education meetings was to raise different arguments and questioning, problematizing the teachers’ answers. Based on the analysis of the qualitative data, we argue that the questioning approach during meetings with teachers may provide their reflections about what would be the concepts of probability and how to teach critically these concepts.
Statistical literacy, probability literacy, statistics education, teacher education.