Statistical Cognition: Towards Evidence-Based

Practice in Statistics and Statistics Education


Ruth Beyth-Marom

Department of Education and Psychology, The Open University, Israel


Fiona Fidler

School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia


Geoff Cumming

School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia




Practitioners and teachers should be able to justify their chosen techniques by taking into account research results: This is evidence-based practice (EBP). We argue that, specifically, statistical practice and statistics education should be guided by evidence, and we propose statistical cognition (SC) as an integration of theory, research, and application to support EBP. SC is an interdisciplinary research field, and a way of thinking. We identify three facets of SC—normative, descriptive, and prescriptive—and discuss their mutual influences. Unfortunately, the three components are studied by somewhat separate groups of scholars, who publish in different journals. These separations impede the implementation of EBP. SC, however, integrates the facets and provides a basis for EBP in statistical practice and education.


Keywords: Statistics education research; Statistical cognition; Statistical reasoning




Statistics Education Research Journal, 7(2), 20-39,

Ó International Association for Statistical Education (IASE/ISI), May, 2008






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Department of Education and Psychology

The Open University of Israel

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