Research-based guidance and classroom activities for teachers of mathematics


Context is a theme within reasoning about data. Links to relevant activities and resources are on the right hand side of this page. 

Research has shown that the context in word problems can act as an obstacle to learners accessing the mathematical ideas embedded in a problem.

Paradoxically, other researchers have also reported how the setting provides meaningfulness that affords a facility and flexibility not apparent when the mathematics is learned out of authentic contexts in the classroom.

This tension can be characterised as the ‘context dilemma’: on the one hand, teachers may want to present the mathematics in context in order to engender meaningfulness, but on the other hand they may not want the context to distract from the mathematics.

It could be argued that the role of context in statistical enquiry is fundamentally different from that in mathematics education. Whereas mathematics in its purest sense derives its rigour from the denial of situated factors, statistics is an applied subject and needs to draw conclusions about hypotheses set in pragmatic contexts. So one might expect the context dilemma to be less apparent in IIR. Perhaps surprisingly, the context dilemma is also apparent in statistics education.

Activities and resources

Data with no name