Science Sampler: Representing Variability of Databy: Teresa Maone

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Measures of central tendency--mean, median, and mode--are often used as descriptive statistics when students conduct experiments in which they take repeated measures of the dependent variable or when class data are pooled for analysis. These measures of central tendency are often used in reporting results and drawing conclusions from experiments. But all scientists know that an important feature of data is variability. These numerical representation activities allow middle school students to use mathematics and graphing skills to analyze and interpret data with this concept in mind.

  • Middle
Publication Date

Community ActivitySaved in 101 Libraries

Reviews (4)
  • on Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:19 PM

Central tendency is data is related to mean, median and mode. But not all experiments results in simple central tendency of data. This article explores the variability of data. Using data that can provide bimodal results can lead to discussion about confounding factors. This can lead to improvement of observational skills, measurement and experimental design for students. Furthermore it might lead to a deeper understanding of validity and reliability of data. These are important scientific skills that we need to expose students to if we want them to learn to think like scientists.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:02 PM

This article presents some age appropriate ways to have middle school students look at variability in data and what that represents.

Kate Geer  (Louisville, CO)
Kate Geer (Louisville, CO)

  • on Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:52 AM

This clearly written, well-developed experimental method approach can be used to showcase the practical application of statistics to middle school students. I have often thought that middle school math students struggled so much because they were not shown any applications of mathematical theory.The author has used a simplified statistical method for the treatment of experimental data providing a sound basis for more in-depth application in high school and college.I would like to see more research in the area of statistical application methods for this age group.

Therese H  (Salisbury, MD)
Therese H (Salisbury, MD)

  • on Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:19 PM

This article hones in on the use of mean, median, and mode (measures of central tendency) by middle school students as they conduct experiments. The article also discusses the statistical feature of representing variability of data. The author shows how she uses the graphed results from measures of central tendency to examine variability of data without having to determine more complicated statistical measures of deviation. The author’s examples are easy to follow and provide a developmentally appropriate ways to go beyond the mean, median, and mode when analyzing experimental results.

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

Free - NSTA Members

$1.29 - Nonmembers

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.