Reasoning and expressing probability in students’ judgements of coin tossing. (English)

Bana, Jack et al., Mathematics education beyond 2000. Vol. 2. Proceedings. , (ISBN 0-9596844-8-4). 448-455 (2000).

A survey item based on a newspaper article about coin tosses was administered to 1256 students from grades 6 to 11. Few students determined the probability of four successive tails. Most students considered that heads and tails were equally likely for a subsequent fifth toss, often describing the probability as “50-50”. Students in higher grades were more likely to respond appropriately. Results are discussed with reference to equiprobability, independence, the gambler’s fallacy, and the outcome approach to probability.