Graphical representation of data: the effect of the use of dynamical statistics technological tool
Stylianou, Despina A.
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In response to calls for reform an innovative course which has at its core element a dynamical statistical software package, Fathom, was developed as an alternative approach to traditional introductory statistics in college. This study was designed to examine the course’s effects on students’ understanding of graphical representations of data. Because particular attention was paid to the processes students used when they were actually solving statistics problems with the help of Fathom, the study conveys more than general notions concerning whether or not technology might aid in the learning of statistics; the findings reveal some of the ways in which students used technology to perform specific tasks when solving problems and how technology helped their thinking. In particular, the study suggests that students using technology are more likely to engage in interpretation and translation of graphically presented information, while, in the absence of technology students only engage in interpretation. Additionally, while when approaching problems with paper-and-pencil, students rarely engage in extrapolation – the most cognitively demanding aspect of graphical comprehension – introduction of technology encourages students to make conjectures about observed trends in the data, and actively search for evidence to support their claims.