Statistics Teachers’ Day 2022


Emma Lerkhe & Anne Patel (University of Auckland); Robyn Headifen & Pip Arnold (AMA Executive)


December 2, 2022

Statistics is the grammar of science and at the heart of democracy*. The annual Statistics Teachers’ Day on Friday 2nd of December showcased these two aspects of working with data.

It was great to be back in person and reconnect with colleagues across Tamaki Makaurau and beyond. The day is a significant opportunity to showcase the work statistics teachers do in their classrooms and share research-based teaching and learning developments. The University of Auckland Statistics department and Auckland Mathematical Association (AMA) have strong links and jointly organise the day. Professional development is an ongoing need for statistics teachers, with constant changes in curricula and technology to support students’ understanding about chance and data.

Charlotte Jones-Todd started the day with a fascinating talk about whales (the swimming kind), and her research helped answer questions about animal behaviour and population demographics. For example, what effect, if any, does military sonar have on the behaviour of beaked whales? How might we use passive acoustic data to estimate the number of sperm whales? These talks by practicing statisticians are essential to help teachers bring the contexts they use with students to life.

The day included over 20 workshops focused on various educational aspects. Incorporating Mātauranga Māori into gaining insight into data was led by Hineao Whareaorere-Taite-McLean. Clare Nelson & Marieke Brinkman shared their experiences teaching in the heart of South Auckland and discussed how they break down barriers between students and data analysis through authentic connections in Statistics. Also offered were the basics of prediction, models and modelling and inference from a range of practitioners, some old, some new, which is what the day is all about!

Pip Arnold’s launched her book Statistical investigations | Te tūhuratanga tauanga: Understanding progressions in The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. A Beeby fellowship supported Pip to do this mahi. The book is much needed by primary and secondary teachers and is set to become a well-thumbed feature of statistics classrooms from levels 1 to 6. The book will make an excellent present for your child’s/grandchild’s local school or teacher if you want to share the love!

Tim Erickson, a specialist classroom teacher, was the plenary speaker from California. He used CODAP to illustrate “Data moves (2019)” such as filtering, grouping, summarising and calculating variables. Tim thoroughly enjoyed talking to an audience of over 200 teachers who were well-versed in bootstrapping and randomisation tests. It was a novelty for him! We can thank the foresight of statistics educational leaders like Maxine Pfannkuch, Chris Wild, Anna Fergusson, Michelle Dalrymple and Pip Arnold that New Zealand’s statistics education is world leading. Tim commented that most countries still make their students analyse data using handheld calculators! They look enviously at New Zealand teachers who are 20 years ahead using open-source technology and simulation-based tools to teach and learn with and about data.

*Karl Pearson & Simon Strunsky

📷 credit to James Beavis, NZCER

Read more