In this study a hierarchy of consideration of variation was developed from students' responses to a questionnaire given at the beginning of a tertiary introductory statistics course. The hierarchy was then used to code responses to the same questionnaire post-study. Comparison of student performances showed that the development of consideration of variation differs with the context of the question. The proposed hierarchy could provide a basis for a more general hierarchy of consideration of variation that is applicable across a variety of tasks. It also supports educators in identifying the level of a student's consideration of variation, providing direction for teaching and learning activities that will help that consideration develop.