# Informal Inferential Reasoning and the Social: Understanding Students’ Informal Inferences Through an Inferentialist Epistemology

## Abstract

Informal statistical inference and informal inferential reasoning (IIR) are increasingly gaining significance in statistics education research. What has not sufficiently been dealt with in previous research is the social nature of students’ informal inferences. This chapter presents results from a study investigating seventh grade students’ IIR in an experiment with paper helicopters. It focuses on students’ reasoning on the best rotor blade length, addressing statistical correlation. We study how students draw inferences when working in a group; and how their inferences emerge socially in their IIR. For grasping the reasoning’s social nature and its normativity, we use inferentialism as background theory. The results illustrate how students’ informal inferences are socially negotiated in the group, how students’ perceived norms influence IIR, and what roles statistical concepts play in students’ IIR.

## Keywords

Generalization from data Inferentialism Informal inferential reasoning (IIR) Informal statistical inference (ISI) Informal statistical reasoning Norms Social## Notes

### Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) [2012-04811]. We furthermore want to thank the anonymous reviewers and especially the editors of this book for their constructive feedback and their efforts improving this article.

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