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In addition to the research on learning and understanding statistical
ideas, several studies on methods of improving students' general
mathematical competence have relevance for teaching statistics. Many of
these studies appear in reviews by Romberg and Carpenter (1986) and Silver
(1990) and help reinforce and extend the research on statistical learning.
The relevant findings are summarized below:
- More time spent on developing understanding (e.g., discussing why
an algorithm works, how skills are interrelated, and how one concept is
distinguished form other) leads to increased student performance on
problem solving tests.
- Use of small groups leads to better group productivity, improved
attitudes, and sometimes, increased achievement.
- Having students read through worked-out examples may be more
effective than having them work through many of the conventional
exercises assigned as homework.
- Students learn more from working on open-ended problems than from
goal-specific problems where there is one right answer.
- ``Writing to learn" mathematics activities appear to be helping
students understand mathematics better.
- Research on particularly innovative programs emphasizing problem
solving and higher order thinking indicates that students do better on
these activities than do students in traditional programs, without
suffering any loss on traditional tests.
All of these results may be relevant to learning specifically statistical ideas.