How do experts think about statistics? Hints for improving undergraduate and postgraduate training
Keywords010401 Applied Statistics
130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractExperts are increasingly being called upon to quantify their knowledge, particularly in situations where data is not yet available or of limited relevance. In many cases this involves asking experts to estimate probabilities. For example experts, in ecology or related fields, might be called upon to estimate probabilities of incidence or abundance of species, and how they relate to environmental factors. Although many ecologists undergo some training in statistics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, this does not necessarily focus on interpretations of probabilities. More accurate elicitation can be obtained by training experts prior to elicitation, and if necessary tailoring elicitation to address the expert’s strengths and weaknesses. Here we address the first step of diagnosing conceptual understanding of probabilities. We refer to the psychological literature which identifies several common biases or fallacies that arise during elicitation. These form the basis for developing a diagnostic questionnaire, as a tool for supporting accurate elicitation, particularly when several experts or elicitors are involved. We report on a qualitative assessment of results from a pilot of this questionnaire. These results raise several implications for training experts, not only prior to elicitation, but more strategically by targeting them whilst still undergraduate or postgraduate students.