Our purpose is to bring together perspectives concerning the processing and use of statistical graphs to identify critical factors that appear to influence graph comprehension and to suggest instructional implications. After providing a synthesis of information about the nature and structure of graphs, we define graph comprehension. We consider 4 critical factors that appear to affect graph comprehension: the purposes for using graphs, task characteristics, discipline characteristics, and reader characteristics. A construct called graph sense is defined. A sequence for ordering the introduction of graphs is proposed. We conclude with a discussion of issues involved in making sense of quantitative information using graphs and ways instruction may be modified to promote such sense making.
- Prof Dev