Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 60751
Design and Application of a Model Eliciting Activity with Civil Engineering Students on Binomial Distribution to Solve a Decision Problem Based on Samples Data Involving Aspects of Randomness and Proportionality

Authors: Veronica Vargas-Alejo, Martha E. Aguiar-Barrera, Humberto Gutierrez-Pulido


Identifying and modeling random phenomena is a fundamental cognitive process to understand and transform reality. Recognizing situations governed by chance and giving them a scientific interpretation, without being carried away by beliefs or intuitions, is a basic training for citizens. Hence the importance of generating teaching-learning processes, supported using technology, paying attention to model creation rather than only executing mathematical calculations. In order to develop the student's knowledge about basic probability distributions and decision making; in this work a model eliciting activity (MEA) is reported. The intention was applying the Model and Modeling Perspective to design an activity related to civil engineering that would be understandable for students, while involving them in its solution. Furthermore, the activity should imply a decision-making challenge based on sample data, and the use of the computer should be considered. The activity was designed considering the six design principles for MEA proposed by Lesh and collaborators. These are model construction, reality, self-evaluation, model documentation, shareable and reusable, and prototype. The application and refinement of the activity was carried out during three school cycles in the Probability and Statistics class for Civil Engineering students at the University of Guadalajara. The analysis of the way in which the students sought to solve the activity was made using audio and video recordings, as well as with the individual and team reports of the students. The information obtained was categorized according to the activity phase (individual or team) and the category of analysis (sample, linearity, probability, distributions, mechanization, and decision-making). With the results obtained through the MEA, four obstacles have been identified to understand and apply the binomial distribution: the first one was the resistance of the student to move from the linear to the probabilistic model; the second one, the difficulty of visualizing (infering) the behavior of the population through the sample data; the third one, viewing the sample as an isolated event and not as part of a random process that must be viewed in the context of a probability distribution; and the fourth one, the difficulty of decision-making with the support of probabilistic calculations. These obstacles have also been identified in literature on the teaching of probability and statistics. Recognizing these concepts as obstacles to understanding probability distributions, and that these do not change after an intervention, allows for the modification of these interventions and the MEA. In such a way, the students may identify themselves the erroneous solutions when they carrying out the MEA. The MEA also showed to be democratic since several students who had little participation and low grades in the first units, improved their participation. Regarding the use of the computer, the RStudio software was useful in several tasks, for example in such as plotting the probability distributions and to exploring different sample sizes. In conclusion, with the models created to solve the MEA, the Civil Engineering students improved their probabilistic knowledge and understanding of fundamental concepts such as sample, population, and probability distribution.

Keywords: Probability, Randomness, sample, linear model, models and modeling

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