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P1-15: External Representations in Introductory Statistics

By Sheri E. Johnson (University of Georgia); Dana Kirin (Portland State University); Samuel Cook (Boston University); Robert Sigley (Texas State University); Asli Mutlu (North Carolina State University)


The use of external representations has the potential to support student learning of fundamental statistical topics (Pfannkuch & Reading, 2005, Lem, Onghena, Verschaffel, & Dooren, 2013). At the same time, researchers stress the importance of providing students with opportunities to reason across multiple external representations to support their conceptual understanding (Pfannkuch, 2005). It is important that we understand whether or not the recommendations made by researchers are being enacted in the classroom. The pedagogical strategies and frequencies reported by instructors provide evidence as to the enactment of these recommendations and we draw on data collected as part of an IRB approved study in which 148 instructors from a nationwide cluster sample of 80 universities responded to a Qualtrics survey (response rate 27.2%). The survey was conducted in the spring of 2018 and included topics about the instructor demographics, the course content and instruction decisions. Questions included a combination of yes/no, open ended and multiple choice questions, some with a likert-like scale used for the frequency of instruction. For example, we asked what text book, if any, was used, whether certain topics such as visual summaries of data were explicitly addressed and how much time the instructors spent on different topics. We will share our findings related to the types and prevalence of external representations addressed as part of their instruction. For example, frequency distributions were most commonly addressed and mosaic plots were least commonly addressed, with only 12 respondents (8.1%) spending more than “just a few minutes” with these potentially useful representations.

Poster Session - P1-15 - External Representations in Introductory Statistics.pdf