Statistics Is Not Just Math!

In Denmark, high school mathematics is taught as integrated topics, whereas the US has separate classes for the different topics. We have three levels of math in high school – A, B and C. For university admissions, B level has become obligatory in many disciplines such as social sciences, business and economics, and political sciences. The primary reason for this requirement is that statistical knowledge is crucial to understanding research and theory in these disciplines, and B level is the lowest level which covers the necessary statistics. The pedagogical approach to statistics in Danish high schools underplays the importance of statistics. Statistics is taught as a subcategory of math and thus often does not get sufficient coverage to achieve proficiency. Furthermore, due to the way statistics is taught in Denmark, many math teachers lack enthusiasm, confidence and potentially background knowledge in teaching statistics. The result is that the part of statistics that plays an important role across the disciplines and society in general is often downplayed due to either a lack of time or the nature of the curriculum. There is an important relationship between math and statistics and in this day and age where people are presented with statistics every single day – climate change, politics, economics, and fake news – it is ever more important that people gain a clear and holistic understanding of statistics. This focused discussion will discuss the pedagogical pros and cons to statistics being an independent discipline versus being integrated into the mathematics curriculum.

Statistics, Pedagogy, Mathematics, Curriculum, Secondary Education

Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

Focused Discussion

  • Rikke Lund
    • Teacher, Mathematics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States Illinois, United States
    • I graduated from Aalborg University with a Master's degree in math and English in 2018. I teach math and English at Aalborg Handelsskole in Denmark. In June, I won the Danish Traveling Math Award which allowed me to go travel, research and study with all expenses paid for a year. I am spending my year as a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I will be comparing the way mathematics is taught at high schools and higher education in the US, with a special focus on statistics.