Local and global thinking in
Centre for Mathematics Education, Open University
In this reflective paper, we explore students’ local and global thinking about informal statistical inference through our observations of 10- to 11-year-olds, challenged to infer the unknown configuration of a virtual die, but able to use the die to generate as much data as they felt necessary. We report how they tended to focus on local changes in the frequency or relative frequency as the sample size grew larger. They generally failed to recognise that larger samples provided stability in the aggregated proportions, not apparent when the data were viewed from a local perspective. We draw on Mason’s theory of the Structure of Attention to illuminate our observations, and attempt to reconcile differing notions of local and global thinking.
Keywords: Statistics education research, Task design, Informal statistical inference, Sample size, Local and global meanings or perspectives, Structure of Attention
Statistics Education Research Journal, 7(2), 107-129, http://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/serj
Ó International Association for Statistical Education (IASE/ISI), May, 2008
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