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Abstract

This paper is intended as a contribution to the advancement of scholarship in the field of statistics education, which directly links with the scholarship of teaching and learning. It is apparent from the literature, that statistics education research, as an interdisciplinary field, does not rely on a single tradition of research methodology. There are different research backgrounds, different research methods are used, studies have different foci and different outcome variables are studied. What constitutes research in statistics education is therefore still a fundamental issue, with a consequent call for more research in this field. The present study attempts to identify the major themes of statistics education research in order to provide an overview of its current thematic nature. Twenty-four doctoral dissertations as well as 138 articles in three specialist statistics education journals, published between 2005 and 2009, were analyzed regarding their key themes and topics. The frequency of occurrence of the key themes is summarized.

We found that the teaching and learning of statistics was the most popular theme or topic. In particular, there is a growing network of researchers interested in studying the development of students’ statistical reasoning. Only 15% of the literature was dedicated to studies on the use of information communications technology (ICT), with the relevant studies reflecting the popularity of JAVA Applets and simulation tools. A smaller portion of the literature was devoted to course design and non-cognitive factors.

This study provides a framework for understanding current developments in statistics education research and suggests structure to the field, making it easier for future researchers to become acquainted with the discipline. In this way a contribution is made in furthering scholarship in statistics education.

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