Volume 3, Issue 1, 2009
This paper explores the use of the dynamic software package, TinkerPlots, as a research tool to assist in assessing students’ understanding of aspects of beginning inference. Two interview protocols used previously with middle school students in printed format without computer software were introduced to a new sample of students through data sets entered in TinkerPlots. The later group of students had experienced a series of lessons using TinkerPlots but the activities were based on different data sets. Of interest in this exploratory study is an analysis of the affordances provided by TinkerPlots to researchers in their quest to assist students in explaining their thinking about the data sets. These are considered in relation to those provided by the format of the earlier interviews.
StatCrunch (www.statcrunch.com) is an online data analysis package that can be used as a low cost alternative to traditional statistical software for introductory statistics courses. StatCrunch offers a wide array of numerical and graphical routines for analyzing data along with several features such as interactive graphics which can be used for pedagogical purposes. StatCrunch has a number of new features related to social data analysis where users may share data sets and associated analysis results via the StatCrunch site. Users may also interact via online discussions related to shared items. This manuscript provides a brief description of the mechanics of uploading and sharing information via the StatCrunch site and then discusses some of the potential benefits that these social data analysis capabilities offer to both students and instructors.