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Cultural influences in probabilistic thinking. (English)
Chernoff, Egan J. (ed.) et al., Probabilistic thinking. Presenting plural perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer (ISBN 978-94-007-7154-3/hbk; 978-94-007-7155-0/ebook). Advances in Mathematics Education, 657-681 (2014).
Summary: Decisions concerning business, industry, employment, sports, health, weather predictions, law, risk and opinion polling are made using an understanding of probabilistic reasoning. The importance of probability in everyday life and workplace has led to calls for an increased attention to probability in the mathematics curriculum. A number of research studies from different theoretical perspectives show that students tend to have conceptions about probability which impact on their learning.{ }The chapter has five sections. The first section outlines the importance of probability in both formal (school) and out-of-school situations and makes a case for teaching probability. The second section considers the different interpretations of probability. Although we use informal probabilistic notions daily in making decisions, research on probability has mostly focused on the classical and frequentist approaches, research on the subjective approach is almost non-existent. Further, the common culture may influence the informal ideas of probability. Yet, there appears to be minimal literature that deals with the educational implications of the role of culture. Hence, the third section draws on mathematics education research to discuss the interaction between mathematical cognition and social settings and culture. It will be argued that probability is no different and early notions as well misconceptions need to be addressed via this lens. It would help clarify the aims, purpose and limitations of probability education.{ }The next section will report on the effects of culture on students’ probabilistic thinking. I will draw on examples from my work and few others who have studied cultural influences on probabilistic thinking to explain how probability is related to human culture and tied to cultural practices. The final section will consider the issues arising out of the literature and offer suggestions for meeting these challenges. Specifically, suggestions for teaching, assessment and further research will be outlined.
Classification: K50 C30 C60
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