Reaction Time in Grade 5: Data Collection within the Practice of Statistics

Jane Watson and Lyn English

This study reports on a classroom activity for Grade 5 students investigating their
reaction times. The investigation was part of a 3-year research project introducing
students to informal inference and giving them experience carrying out the practice of
statistics. For this activity the focus within the practice of statistics was on
introducing two different ways of collecting data to answer a statistical question, in
this case, “What is the typical reaction time of Grade 5 students?” Workbook entries
were used to assess students’ capacities to engage in the investigation. Results
indicated that although the students were proficient with the procedures and
measures introduced, they were less able to explain and apply the underlying
concepts. The activity provides a suggestion and benchmarks for others wishing to
follow student development of concepts related to the practice of statistics.