A Case Study of Primary School Students' Use of a Dynamic Statistics Software Package for Analyzing and Interpreting Data

A Case Study of Primary School Students' Use of a Dynamic Statistics Software Package for Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Irene Kleanthous (Cyprus Ministry of Education, Cyprus) and Maria Meletiou-Mavrotheris (European University, Cyprus)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6497-5.ch002


This chapter explores the potential of dynamic statistics software for supporting the teaching and learning of the Common Core Standards for Mathematics. It shares the experiences from a teaching experiment that implemented a data-driven approach to mathematics instruction using the dynamic data-visualization software InspireData© (Hancock, 2006), an educational package specifically designed to meet the learning needs of students in the middle and high school grades (Grades 4-12). We report on how a group of Grade 4 (about 9-year-old) students used the affordances provided by the dynamic learning environment to gather, analyze, and interpret data, and to draw data-based conclusions and inferences. The role of the technological tool in scaffolding and extending these young students' stochastical and mathematical reasoning is discussed.
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The family of educational software in the teaching of mathematics that came to be known as dynamic software (dynamic geometry, dynamic statistics, dynamic algebra) and which integrate dynamic graphical displays with underlying computational models of fundamental mathematical structures, provide educators with the opportunity to teach mathematics in a manner aligned to the current technological environment we live in. These technological tools are designed to explicitly facilitate the visualization of mathematical concepts by offering a learning environment that allows the construction and flexible usage of multiple representations of mathematical ideas. All objects of dynamic software are continuously connected and, thus changes in one representation are automatically reflected in all related representations. This dynamic nature provides a medium for the design of activities that integrate experiential and formal pieces of knowledge, allowing the user to make direct connections between physical experience and its formal representations (Meletiou-Mavrotheris, 2003; Paparistodemou, Noss, & Pratt, 2008). The direct manipulation of mathematical objects and synchronous update of all dependent objects facilitates learning by allowing users to ask “what if…?” questions, make conjectures, and then easily test and see these conjectures in action (Ben-Zvi, 2000). Strong research support exists for the efficacy of dynamic computer graphics as instructional media that support active construction of knowledge by learners rather than forcing them to accept information provided by the computer without deep processing (e.g., Arzarello & Robutti, 2010; Heid & Blume, 2008; Hoyles & Noss, 1994, Mariotti, 2001; Jones, 2012; Yerushalmy, 2006; Zbiek et al., 2007).

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