**Using data comparison to support a focus on **

**distribution: Examining preservice teachers’ **

**understandings of distribution when engaged **

**in statistical inquiry**

Aisling Leavy

aleavy@umd.edu

ABSTRACT

This exploratory study, a one group pretest-posttest design, investigated the development of elementary preservice teachers’ understandings of distribution as expressed in the measures and representations used to compare data distributions. During a semester-long mathematics methods course, participants worked in small groups on two statistical inquiry projects requiring the collection, representation, analysis and reporting of data with the ultimate goal of comparing distributions of data. Many participants shifted from reporting descriptive exclusively to the combined use of graphical representations and descriptive statistics which supported a focus on distributional shape and coordinated variability and center. Others gained skills and understandings related to statistical measures and representations yet failed to utilize these when comparing distributions. Gaps and misconceptions in statistical understanding are discussed. Recommendations for supporting the development of conceptual understanding relating to distribution are outlined.

**Keywords:** Statistics
education research; preservice teacher education; distribution; statistical
inquiry, data comparison, teacher knowledge

**__________________________**

*Statistics Education Research
Journal, 5(2), 89-113, http://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/serj*

*Ó International
Association for Statistical Education (IASE/ISI), November, 2006*

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Aisling Leavy

R124 Mary Immaculate College,