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Using Constructivist Teaching Strategies In Probability And Statistics

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovative Instructional Strategies and Curricula

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Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1322.1 - 15.1322.11



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Paper Authors

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Kingsley Reeves University of South Florida

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Bill Blank University of South Florida

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Victor Hernandez-Gantes University of South Florida

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Maniphone Dickerson University of South Florida

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using Constructivist Teaching Strategies in Probability and Statistics


This paper discusses the early results of an NSF EEC project that focuses on the impact of using constructivist approaches to teaching probability and statistics for engineers. Twelve exercises were developed and used in a modified version of the course to promote student learning. For example, one exercise enables students to build upon previously acquired knowledge related to counting techniques and the concept of statistical independence and, through self-discovery, derive the probability mass function for the binomial distribution. Data were collected from both a control group and a treatment group. Preliminary results regarding the efficacy of such an approach are presented.

1. Introduction

The need for a strong engineering workforce in the United States has been affirmed by several national studies including some sponsored by both the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering1-3. Existing research on learning and teaching offers pedagogical approaches that have proven to be effective in teaching mathematics instruction, namely Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) and inquiry-oriented (IO) teaching and learning. However, while these pedagogical approaches have been applied in pure mathematics courses, there is limited evidence that the pedagogies have been employed in a more applied context like the engineering curriculum.

The RME and IO constructivist pedagogies are significantly different from traditional engineering instructional methods. Traditional engineering pedagogy dictates that instructors should present students with a series of known facts or procedures and then demonstrate their use to solve sample problems. Students are then given homework problems that require the repetitive use of the same facts or procedures. It is assumed that such repetition fosters student learning. However, what this method oftentimes creates are students who are capable of successfully solving problems without truly thinking or understanding. When assessment of student outcomes is measured by having students solve similar problems on an exam, it is entirely possible for students to perform well on such assessments without really having an understanding of the underlying concepts. Constructivist learning and teaching pedagogies are a response to this deficiency.

The objectives of this research are to: (1) develop educational materials based on the RME and IO constructivist learning pedagogies to more effectively teach probability and statistics in engineering; (2) evaluate the impact of the RME and IO learning environment on student learning outcomes; and (3) disseminate results on campus, in local K-12 education, and

Reeves, K., & Blank, B., & Hernandez-Gantes, V., & Dickerson, M. (2010, June), Using Constructivist Teaching Strategies In Probability And Statistics Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16660

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