Teachers’ professional development needs in data
Poor Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) results and widespread disappointing mathematics results in South Africa necessitate research-based and more efficient professional development for in-service mathematics teachers. This article reports on the profiling of mathematics teachers’ statistical knowledge, beliefs and confidence in order to inform the development of in-service teacher education programmes in statistics for Grade 8 and Grade 9 teachers. Ninety mathematics teachers from schools with culturally diverse learner populations in an urban region in South Africa were profiled using an adapted profiling instrument (Watson, 2001). Although statistics formed part of quite a number of these teachers’ initial teacher education and about half of them were involved in professional development in statistics education, they still teach traditionally, rather than using a more data driven approach. Teachers indicated high levels of confidence in teaching most statistics topics but showed low levels of statistical thinking when they had to apply their knowledge of concepts, such as sample and average in social contexts including newspaper articles and research reports.