Conceptual issues in understanding the inner logic of statistical inference: Insights from two teaching experiments

Luis A. Saldanha, Patrick Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


We report on a sequence of two classroom teaching experiments that investigated high school students' understandings as they explored connections among the ideas comprising the inner logic of statistical inference-ideas involving a core image of sampling as a repeatable process, and the organization of its outcomes into a distribution of sample statistics as a basis for making inferences. Students' responses to post-instruction test questions indicate that despite understanding various individual components of inference-a sample, a population, and a distribution of a sample statistic-their abilities to coordinate and compose these into a coherent and well-connected scheme of ideas were usually tenuous. We argue that the coordination and composition required to assemble these component ideas into a coherent scheme is a major source of difficulty in developing a deep understanding of inference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 2014



  • Margin of error
  • Sampling distribution
  • Statistical inference
  • Stochastic event

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Applied Mathematics

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