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Thesis Oral Defense – Mary Jean Jones

April 8th, 2013
 

ORAL THESIS DEFENSE

MST Candidate

Mary Jean Jones
Thesis Advisor: Molly Schauffler
An Abstract of the Thesis Presented
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Master of Science in Teaching

August, 2013

AN ASSESSMENT OF NINTH GRADERS’ USE OF GRAPHS AND EXPLANATIONS TO COMMUNICATE SCIENTIFIC IDEAS

           Proficiency in science learning involves mastering skills and language that are used in communicating about data. Working with data includes analyzing data tables, developing hypotheses, creating graphs, and explaining if and how those graphs support a hypothesis, all of which are part of data literacy. In this study, I examined the extent to which students (a) produced mechanically correct graphs, (b) referred to statistical vocabulary when discussing data and (c) interpreted those graphs by way of producing scientific explanations. After conducting preliminary classroom observations, I selected a survey that aligned with (a) the aspects of data literacy with which students seemed to have difficulties and (b) the current math and science education research. Students tend to perform better at interpreting graphs than constructing them and tend to be lacking in their abilities to produce sufficient evidence and reasoning for their claims. The survey contained two sets of data, each with a hypothesis. Participants were asked to create a graph helping them determine whether or not the data supported the hypothesis. Sixty-four ninth grade students participated in the survey. The majority of students in this study produced mechanically correct graphs. An additional twelve students participated in interviews. Findings from survey and interview data suggest that students can use statistical vocabulary such as mean and range when discussing data but lack the conceptual understanding of those terms to create accurate and adequate scientific explanations.
 

Friday, April 19, 2013
1:00 pm
117 Donald P. Corbett Building

 

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