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Understanding Children's Comprehension of Visual Displays of Complex Information

Haim Eshach and Judah L. Schwartz
Journal of Science Education and Technology
Vol. 11, No. 4 (Dec., 2002), pp. 333-346
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40186562
Page Count: 14
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Understanding Children's Comprehension of Visual Displays of Complex Information
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Abstract

Developing students' ability to interpret the vast amount of quantitative data they encounter on a daily basis has become a major task for today's educators. However, very little attention has been given to students' strategies of analyzing multivariate data. This study investigated how students interpret and analyze multivariate data organized in tables and the nature of external visual displays that they tend to create and use for this purpose. Ten middle school students were asked to think aloud while solving five problems demanding an analysis of data organized in tables. The students were then interviewed. Results indicated that (1) students based their conclusions on only part of the data; (2) students did not use either efficient or sufficient visual representations; (3) students did not apply mathematical operations efficiently; and (4) students referred to or built a context to the problem. The results of the current research may assist educators to design efficient curricula while being aware of and taking into account (1) students' difficulties in employing previously learned mathematical devices to analyze data, (2) students' skills in choosing appropriate and efficient visual representations to present and interpret the data, and (3) strategies employed by students in analyzing multivariate data.

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