Abstract: Computer simulations and animations for developing statistical concepts are often not understood by beginners. Hands-on physical simulations that morph into computer simulations are teaching approaches that can build students’ concepts. In this paper we review the literature on visual and verbal cognitive processing and on the efficacy of animations in promoting learning. We describe an instructional sequence, from hands-on to animations, developed for 14 year-old students. The instruction focused on developing students’ understanding of sampling variability and using samples to make inferences about populations. The learning trajectory from hands-on to animations is analyzed from the perspective of multimedia learning theories while the learning outcomes of about 100 students are explored, including images and reasoning processes used when comparing two box plots. The findings suggest that carefully designed learning trajectories can stimulate students to gain access to inferential concepts and reasoning processes. The role of verbal, visual, and sensory cues in developing students' reasoning is discussed and important questions for further research on these elements are identified.
What do we want out students to learn in an introductory statistics course? Historically, the answers have ranged from "How to compute ..." to "How to read the newspaper" to "How to analyze data" to "It depends on who the students are." Most of these discussions took place in a context in which data were hard to come by and statistical analysis tools were expensive. But today we live in a world where data are ubiquitous and anyone with an internet connection can analyze data. In this new data-driven world, I will argue that there is a core curriculum needed by all students, regardless of major and that the purpose of this core is to teach them to be Citizen Statisticians. We'll discuss how the new textbook I wrote with Colleen Ryan, Introductory Statistics: Exploring The World Through Data, was written to provide a core statistics education to all students regardless of background or mathematical preparation.