Improving Student Analysis of Data in Lab Investigations

Students often have considerable difficulty deciding what type of graph to use to represent their data, and this is particularly true if they are trying to analyze inquiry investigations that they have designed themselves. This often happens because they do not have a good understanding of different orders of variables (nominal, ordinal and interval-ratio) and how these relate to the type of graph one would normally use to analyze the data. This presentation will provide an overview of the different data types and the graphs typically used to represent that data. Participants will engage in an activity (or watch live Video enactments), previously used by the presenter in his own middle-school classroom, designed to reinforce understanding of these data-graph relationships so that the participants (and their students) can learn about orders of variables and the appropriate ways to represent those different variables.

To Bring/Important Notes

I'll be demonstrating the activities, but I'd like the participants to try them if they could as I go along. So a marble or small ball, 3 cups (styrofoam, paper, plastic; of similar size), a couple of pieces of blank paper (taped along the long edge to make an 11x17 sheet), a ruler (with a groove the marble can run down; or the cardboard tube from a paper towel cut in half lengthwise), and a couple of books. Oh, and scissors.

NEW STUFF: And masking tape might be useful too (it's not going to stick really well and ruin anything....electrical tape will do too if you don't have masking tape).

NOTE that Handout D (see below) isn't available from this site. 


10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

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  • Mount Saint Vincent University
    Michael Bowen

    I'm an associate professor of science and STEM education. My research has involved various aspects of both formal and informal science education often with a focus on data literacy including representation of data (in tables and graphs) and data analysis.