By Elizabeth Suazo-Flores, Stephanie M. Gardner, Joel K. Abraham, Anupriya Karippadath, Eli Meir, and Susan Maruca (Perdue University)
Graphing is one practice used by scientists to explore and analyze quantitative data sets to test hypotheses, make inferences, and communicate findings. Graphing in the context of biology often brings knowledge of statistics and biological inquiry together with knowledge of representations and visual processing to make meaning. We analyzed 26 undergraduate biology students’ graphs and the verbal justifications for their graphing decisions from semi-structured interviews. 12 out of 26 students took at least a basic statistics course before the study. Participants were asked to use a novel program to make a graph testing a prediction in the context of conservation biology. The majority of students’ justifications referred to plotting raw data in bar or scatter graph and they typically based their graph type selection on data characteristics and ease of visualization. When analyzing their variable selection, 65% of students plotted variables relevant to the hypothesis or prediction. Attendees will learn about the role of the biology context in data analysis in students’ graphing practices, which will have implications for teaching statistics courses to biology majors.