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Promoting civic engagement via exploration of evidence: Challenges for Statistics Education
Date du début: 1 sept. 2015, Date de fin: 31 août 2018 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Promoting civic engagement via exploration of evidence: Challenges for Statistics Education The project aims to contribute to the preparation of young people in Europe and beyond for responsible citizenship, in terms of their ability to be aware of and understand quantitative evidence and statistics about key social phenomena that permeate civic life, such as migration, demographic change, crime, economic and employment change. In many countries the general public is encouraged to participate in public policy decision processes. Sound evidence-based decision-making in private as well as public life requires from the informed citizen a certain level of quantitative reasoning skills to understand important social issues. Government agencies and NGOs in many European countries make abundant data as raw material available to the general public. Traditional print media increasingly provide interactive abilities for data exploration on their web pages to allow readers far more in-depth exploration than a traditional newspaper article. Modern technology provides powerful tools for data visualization that offer the potential of exploring large multivariate datasets. However, statistics education both at secondary and tertiary level is lagging behind the demands for informed citizenship. Relevant datasets that can inform debate and action have a complex multivariate structure, and visualisation tools by statistics producers may not be accessible for everyone. The project aims to develop integrated resources (lesson plans, data visualization tools, and support materials) for statistics instructors at tertiary levels which will also be accessible to high school teaching, designed to facilitate exploration and understanding of authentic, multivariate (mostly large scale) data about social, environmental and health issues. Integrating authentic large datasets into teaching lets students experience how statistical analyses and data play a role in understanding the pressing social and political issues of our time. The project aims to create opportunities for networking for educators who teach statistics at universities and high-schools, in order to facilitate mutual learning and exploration and refinement of new materials. During the first year of the project, in order to pursue our goals, we explored and sketched out a new sub-area of statistics we call Civic Statistics which is distinct from conventional statistics taught to non-specialists in introductory courses. Civic Statistics' data and messages are quite unique because often they are based on official and open sources, are multivariate in nature (i.e., involve multiple variables that are correlated or interact, sometime in a non-linear way), and dynamic (changing over time). Such types of data and statistical messages related to them that are conveyed to the public by the media, official statistics offices and other providers, and their understanding is required for participation in democratic societies, but they are usually not at the core of regular statistics instruction and have received relatively little attention in the statistics education literature. The six project partners from Germany, UK, Hungary, Portugal, and Israel have a strong background and expertise in researching conceptual foundations, assessing and enhancing statistical literacy as well as teaching statistics and data handling to a wide variety of learners. Coming from diverse backgrounds, different home departments (Education, Mathematics, Economics, Human Services) and rooted in different networks and professional environments (College and University Teaching, National Statistics Offices, continuing teacher education networks) they complement each other in unique ways with their experiences in ICT-based data visualisation, in tertiary and secondary statistics teaching and creating multimedia learning material for school and college education, in consulting big data providers such as National Statistics Offices and in the development and assessment of numeracy and statistical literacy. Outputs of the planned project include: a. development of a conceptual framework regarding the skills and knowledge needed for understanding civic statistics and multivariate data related to socially-meaningful phenomena. b. Preparation of selected relevant datasets from various public or open sources, c. design or refinement of unique data visualisation tools that will be made available to educators and students both through a central website as well as ready for mobile devices, into which educators can insert local data. d. Teaching and learning material for innovative teaching practices for a broad scope of target groups including college/ university students from a variety of related fields (mathematics and statistics education, economics, psychology etc.) and high-school teachers. Materials will include lesson plans, worksheets, background and context information about the datasets and podcasts or short instructional recommendations. The project plans several multiplier events and dissemination activities, such as conferences, workshops, and webinars, through which project materials will be refined and disseminated, and training for teachers be provided. One of the planned multiplier events (Roundtable July 2016, see details in next section) has already been successfully completed with participants representing diverse stakeholders, i.e., from official statistics agencies (e.g., OECD, Eurostat, National iStatistics Office in Italy) as well as Social Scientists, Economists, Journalists, Cognitive Scientists, School Teachers and Math and Statistics Educators. The anticipated impact of the project is the enrichment of statistics instruction at the secondary and tertiary level and the provision of innovative open online learning material. The interdisciplinary approach will incite innovation and debate to the statistics curriculum at school and university level to prepare youth for active citizenship. The ultimate impact will be to prepare young people to become active citizens and to empower people to evidence-based decision-making and participation in public debate and hence to strengthen civic society.



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