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Handling complexity in the design of educational software tools.

Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference On Teaching Statistics (ICOTS-7), Salvador, Brazil.
Konold, C.
Rossman, A., & Chance, B.
Voorburg, The Netherlands: International Statistical Institute.

Designers of educational software tools inevitably struggle with the issue of complexity. In general, a simple tool will minimize the time needed to learn it at the expense of range of applications. On the other hand, designing a tool to handle a wide range of applications risks overwhelming students. I contrast the decisions we made regarding complexity when we developed DataScope 15 years ago with those we recently made in designing TinkerPlots, and describe how our more recent tack has served to increase student engagement at the same time it helps them see critical connections among display types. More generally, I suggest that in the attempt to not overwhelm students, too many educational environments managed instead to under whelm them and thus serve to stifle rather than foster learning.