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The development of middle school children’s interest in statistical literacy


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Carmichael, CS 2010 , 'The development of middle school children’s interest in statistical literacy', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The focus of the study is interest and its influence as a motivating factor on
adolescent children. Interest has a pivotal role in determining the extent to
which students choose to re-engage in learning material. The dissertation
describes the development of an instrument that is suitable for measuring
middle school children’s interest in statistical literacy, which is an ability to
interpret messages containing statistical elements.
The “Statistical Literacy Interest Measure” (SLIM) is based on theoretical
models that are embedded in the motivational literature. From these models, a
bank of items was written, reviewed, and tested on a pilot sample of Australian
middle school children. Testing and selection of items was undertaken using the
Rasch Rating Scale Model (Andrich, 1978). Based on the outcomes of this
process, further development of items occurred and they were subsequently
retested on a larger sample of Australian middle school students. As a result of
the process, 16 self-descriptions were deemed to be suitable for inclusion in the
Students’ responses to SLIM and the “Self-Efficacy for Statistical
Literacy” (SESL) scale, a measure of students’ self-efficacy also developed in
the study, were used to generate interest and self-efficacy logit scores. A
number of statistical models were applied to these scores, as well as
achievement and demographic data that were also collected during the study.
The results of the study indicate that interpretations based on SLIM will
be valid. The measure explained approximately two thirds of the variance in
students’ responses and reported satisfactory reliability coefficients. The
placement of items on the one interest continuum confirmed that there is a
meaningful hierarchy associated with the interest construct, in that it
commences with the low levels of interest that are associated with task-mastery
and increases up to those high levels of interest that are associated with a desire to re-engage with the domain.
The modelling process confirmed that in a middle school context, students’
self-competency beliefs were a strong predictor of their interest but that interest
itself was not a strong predictor of achievement. The inclusion of some teacher
and school-related variables in the models suggested that teachers and schools
have a greater influence on students’ achievement than on their interest.
Given the increased emphasis that statistics education now appears to
have in the proposed Australian curriculum, SLIM is a timely addition to the
repertoires of researchers seeking to explore the development of middle school
students’ statistical literacy.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Carmichael, CS
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Copyright 2010 the author

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