Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2011

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Science in Mathematics Education

Department

Mathematics

Major Advisor

Laurie O. Cavey, Ph.D.

Abstract

Research has shown that students studying topics in statistics frequently struggle with interpreting contingency tables. A contingency table, also known as a two-way table, shows frequencies according to the variables included in the data. The rows provide data for one variable while the columns provide data for another. Interpreting the conditional distributions of these variable interactions is what students often find most difficult (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2003). Part of the problem stems from students' lack of facility with proportional reasoning, which involves understanding multiplicative relationships between quantities. This includes working with percents, fractions, and decimals. For example, students who do not understand what a percentage represents can have difficulty interpreting the interaction between variables.

Can teachers help students understand these relationships by teaching or reviewing concepts of and strategies for proportional reasoning? Using a concept-based instructional approach to this question, an intervention was developed for use with a class of AP Statistics students. The results of the study indicated a promising way of improving student understanding of contingency tables and revealing ongoing challenges students face.

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