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Week 1 Introduction

David Spiegelhalter introduces the course 'Teaching Probability'.

Watch this video, in which Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter introduces the course.

  • After watching, please use the comments to introduce yourself, and tell us what you hope to gain from the course.

Derek Huby says: “I’m an experienced mathematics teacher, adviser and writer. I’m interested in how learners make sense of mathematics and probability in particular, both inside and outside the classroom.” Derek will be your Course Mentor for Teaching Probability, and will be looking in frequently to check on your progress and help with any questions you may have.

David Spiegelhalter says: “I got interested in teaching probability through my work on risk communication, where research had convincingly shown that the idea of ‘expected frequencies’ was helpful in improving understanding of probability, both for professionals and school students. I started working with school groups, and then developed teaching materials with Jenny as part of the Cambridge Millennium Mathematics Project’s NRICH site. The idea for a book was born.”

Jenny Gage says: “As a maths teacher, I found teaching probability uninspiring at best, and often difficult. My students either could do it, or they couldn’t, and it was hard to help them understand – because when it came down to it, I too was simply operating techniques without much real understanding. We teachers were urged to do more experiments, because that would help. Well, it was more fun, certainly, but the interpretation of the experiments was often quite limited, with big jumps in understanding ignored. When I started working with teachers in South Africa, for whom probability was new, I tried everything I knew – and found it lacking. David Spiegelhalter’s approach, based on whole numbers, opened my eyes! As I worked with him, and with other teachers, both in the UK and in South Africa, I became increasingly excited that there was a way to teach probability which wasn’t dry and boring, or just doing experiments that didn’t really teach anything much. As we worked on the set of probability resources for NRICH, the thought of a book became more and more a possibility, and ultimately a reality. The online course is one way to ensure that what we have discovered about teaching probability, and the structured approach we have devised, get as wide dissemination as possible.”

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Teaching Probability

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