Teachers who engage primary school students in informal statistical inference (ISI) must themselves have good content knowledge of ISI (ISI-CK). However, little is known about how college education for pre-service teachers can contribute to the development of their ISI-CK. To address this shortcoming, we used a case study to investigate ISI-CK development in a class of 21 pre-service primary school teachers who participated in a short intervention (180 min). Based on qualitative and quantitative analyses of the pretest, posttest and intervention data, the results suggest that most participants acknowledged it is possible to make uncertain inferences. An assignment to search the media for inferential claims seemed to create awareness regarding inference and the need to distinguish between a sample and a population. A simulation involving random sampling and varied sample size probably increased the participants’ knowledge of sampling variability and random sampling. No development was seen in the participants’ knowledge about sufficient sample sizes. The statistical investigation conducted by the participants during a model lesson may have strengthened their awareness of ISI, but it also revealed that many participants continued to favour distributed sampling over random sampling. Further research on belief formation with regard to data as evidence, sampling methods and the expression of uncertainty in the context of ISI is needed.
- Informal inferential reasoning
- Informal statistical inference
- Initial teacher education
- Primary education
- Samples and sampling
- Statistics education