Data and graphing, on and off computer: Beyond "just doing it" - A continuum of hand and computer-generated constructions

The Hanau Model Schools Partnership Impolementation Report
Grant, C. M.

School are flocking to software publishers to equip their newly acquied compuers with the latest in software. Electronic graphing tools are an important component of any computer tool kit. Graphers..Data Explorere...Math Lab Toolkit...Green Globs and Graphing Equations...Symbols and Graphs...First Workshop...The Graph Club.. The 199701998 SUMBURST educational software catalogue alone lists these 7 electronic graphing tools. In many schools today, it is not unusual to see students projects with computer-generated graphs lining school hallways. Parents are delighted that their children are sorking with data and using computers to peoduce neat , professional -looking products that incorporate graphs along with the textk, graphics, and tables they have come to look for.<br><br>Yet the fact that students are graphing with computers doesn't, in and of itself, mean that they are developing rich understandings of data and of the subtleties of data representation. Rather, too often they use the tool to produce "quick but meaningless graphs" without having a real grasp of the nature of the data with which they are working (Ainley and Pratt, 1995, p. 438). Graphs, generated by hand or electronically, must not be relegated to the passive role of presentation tools. Rather, they need to become central components of a wider analytical activity, used to interpret the data, identify trends and make predictions (Parker, 1992; Aily and Pratt, 1995).

The CAUSE Research Group is supported in part by a member initiative grant from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics and Data Science Education