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«University of California Los Angeles Bridging the Gap Between Tools for Learning and for Doing Statistics A dissertation submitted in partial ...»

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As noted in the introduction, there is much more to education than technology tools. In order for novices to have an authentic experience of data, they need to work with real data to answer questions, but that experience requires guidance.

It is not clear how to develop more instructors capable of guiding this experience. In the United States, the answer is often to develop a new teacher certification. Computer scientists are currently working toward a certification for K-12 teachers to teach computer science in schools. However, the road to certication is long and fraught with politics. And, given the way statistics is often taught even at the post-secondary level, not all certifications would be equal.

There is also an important consideration about the affordances of tools we

use. In 1995, Michael Curry wrote a piece about the implications associated with the rise of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (Curry, 1995). In it, he talks about how difficult it is for a software user to take responsibility for the actions of the software. Just like GIS products, statistical and data analysis products are used to make decisions about real people. While scholars are bringing attention to the algorithmic and data-driven processes governing our everyday lives (Diakopoulos, 2014; boyd and Crawford, 2012), creators and users of software need to bring more awareness to the process. While technological tools can appear neutral, they shape the way we think, and thus should be created with care.

Finally, while the subject of this inquiry has been statistical programming tools, there is a noticeable lack of rigorous research in the field. There is a need for more and better data about just what interface features and design decisions support thinking, and which promote misconceptions.

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