ERIC Number: ED423277
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998
An Analysis of Students' Statistical Understandings.
McGatha, Maggie; Cobb, Paul; McClain, Kay
It is important to develop instructional sequences that build on students' current understandings and support shifts in their current ways of thinking. As part of the pilot work for a project on mathematics teaching, classroom performance assessments were conducted to obtain baseline data on students' current statistical understandings. The assessments were conducted in three sessions of a seventh-grade class. The assessment task was designed to provide information about students' current understandings of the mean and graphical representations of data because these ideas were the focus of a statistics chapter students previously studied. Students worked in small groups on the three performance tasks, each of which is described in detail. The analysis shows that students typically viewed the mean as a procedure that was to be used to summarize a group of numbers regardless of the task situation. Data analysis for these students meant "doing something with the numbers," an idea grounded in their previous mathematics experiences. Students' conversations about graphical representations highlight the procedures for constructing graphs with no attention to what the graphs signify and how that relates to the task situation. To help students develop a sense of data analysis as more than just "doing something with numbers," it is necessary to create tasks that are relevant to middle school students. An appendix contains a list of 69 sources for additional information. (Contains 8 figures and 11 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Diego, CA, April 13-17, 1998).