NCTM Annual Conference 2017: Build the Story of Inference

Updated: Mar 4, 2018



We spent the last four days in beautiful San Antonio learning from many great stats educators (thanks Doug, Josh, and others) and eating tacos. Luke and Lindsey also facilitated a session titled: Statistics and the Redesigned SAT.


Highlights: Simulation Based Inferential Thinking and Reasoning

Doug Tyson took us through the “Can you smell Parkinson’s?” activity, in which participants used simulation to model a chance process, made a dotplot of results, and then used the dotplot to try and answer a question.


Josh Tabor took us through the “Does caffeine increase pulse rates?” activity, in which participants used simulation to model a chance process, made a dotplot of results, and then used the dotplot to try and answer a question.

Stats Medics went through the “Does Beyonce write her own lyrics?” activity, in which participants used simulation to model a chance process, made a dotplot of results, and then used the dotplot to try and answer a question.


Are you sensing a theme here? It became clear this weekend the power of simulations (and dotplots) to get students thinking inferentially. All of these activities are extremely accessible (no prior knowledge required) and allow us to get students to think and reason about significance testing and P-values without all of the formal language and calculations.


Inferential thinking and reasoning exists at many levels and must be grown throughout the school year. Here is a possible progression of questions that take students from the experience of the activity to the formality of significance testing:


Questions for Inferential Thinking