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Yap, Sook Fwe
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In Singapore, the use of computer technology is rather common in statistics courses at the university level. Its use at 'A' Level has however been scarce. In particular, there has been no formal research of evaluation of the effectiveness of its use at 'A' level. This study is an attempt to explore the effectiveness of using Excel spreadsheet in the teaching and learning of 'A' level statistics via simulation and graphs.

There are several objectives to be achieved in this research. Firstly, the subjects will be given an opportunity to work with real data that they have to collect on their own. It is hoped that the students can gain some insights into the real life applications of statistics and thus appreciate the practical aspects of the subject. Secondly, the investigator has chosen to design IT worksheets based on Microsoft Excel, which is widely accessible in many homes, schools and workplace. Each worksheet comprises two sections, namely, 'Let's do it' and 'Brainteasers' section. It is hoped that the students will develop IT skills as they carry out the hands-on tasks given in the 'Lets do it "' section of the IT worksheet. In addition, the students will learn to communicate their mathematical ideas in writing when answering the questions in the 'Brainteasers' section of the worksheets. Thirdly, the students' understanding of statistical concepts will be enhanced through increasing their exposure to more non-routine, conceptual problems, given in the 'Brainteasers' section of the IT worksheets. The problems are also intended to develop the students' ability to think critically, analyze information and make informed decisions. Last but not least, it is hoped that the students will be able to develop an intuitive sense of abstract statistical concepts such as approximating distributions, sampling and Central Limit Theorem via simulation and graphs.

The effectiveness of the IT programme was measured using three test instruments. The first instrument comprised the printouts and answers to the IT worksheets, which aimed to assess the subjects' conceptual understanding of the properties of the various probability distributions, sampling and Central Limit Theorem. The second instrument was the Achievement Test, which was designed to evaluate and compare the ability of both experimental and quasi-control groups in solving non-routine, problems. Results showed that the experimental group did better in solving non-routine, conceptual problems set in the Achievement Test. However, the results also reflected that were students in the experimental group who failed to acquire an indepth understanding of the Central Limit Theorem. Thus, proper follow-up activities such as debriefing, providing feedback and allowing more discussions should be carried out in future studies to ensure proper concept attainment. The third instrument was a survey implemented to elicit the responses of the subjects towards the IT programme. On the whole, responses to the survey were positive and encouraging as a significant percentage of the subjects agreed that the IT programme enhanced their learning of the statistical concepts.

The results obtained from this study have certain important implications for both teaching and future in statistics, incorporating computer-based learning in a statistics course can enhance students' learning of statistical concepts. Secondly, the IT programme has helped students to improve in communicating mathematical ideas, visualizing graphical properties and changes in various probability distributions through simulation. In particular, it helps to develop awareness in the students of the usefulness in real life situations.
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QA276.18 Cha
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Appears in Collections:Master of Education

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