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Students Making Sense of Multi-level Data

  • Author(s): Haldar, Lina Chopra
  • Wong, Nicole
  • Heller, Joan I.
  • Konold, Cliff
  • et al.
Abstract

This study builds on research of Konold, Finzer, and Kreetong (2014), which demonstrated that students with little or no training in statistics or data analysis created nested tables or narratives to encode data that had an underlying hierarchical structure. The question remains whether students can understand and work with such structures when they are presented with them. In this study, we examine the reasoning of a seventh-grade student as she used the data-analysis environment CODAP to explore data about the growth of plants. The data were represented in a case table that structured them hierarchically at three levels. We attend in particular to her developing understanding of both the hierarchical case table and related graphs at the level Curcio (1987) refers to as “reading the data.” Critical to her coming to understand the data was 1) coming to see the graphs and table as dynamic rather than static representations, and 2) using dynamic linking among the objects to explore their relations. These findings have the potential for informing curricula, software development, and teachers’ knowledge for teaching.

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