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Assessing Gains in Undergraduate Students' Abilities to Analyze Graphical Data

The authors of this TIEE Research Paper assessed analytical and graphing abilities in undergraduate students at four colleges and universities. The authors integrated use of graphing and data analysis skills throughout their lecture and lab courses using active-learning exercises that they developed. At the end of the courses, most students (75-90 %) were adept at interpreting simple bar graphs and scatterplots, and their skills in making graphs from raw data improved considerably. However, little improvement was found in their understanding of independent and dependent variables, and most students (> 50-75 %) had difficulty properly summarizing trends from data with variation. Students also did not improve in their abilities to interpret complex bar graphs with interactions. These areas that may deserve attention from those who teach analytical skills at the college level. The authors recommend strategies to teach these skills and strategies to assess whether teaching methods are effective.
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Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords research practitioner; TIEE; education research; teaching as scholarship; pedagogy; student-active; analytical skill; analysis; graphing skill
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Description Analytical and graphing skills are critical to students' understanding of ecology, and while these skills are usually taught in ecology courses, they are rarely assessed. This study documents areas where students improved in their analytical and graphing skills, and other areas where they struggled and did not improve. The article is a useful resource for faculty who are teaching these skills, since the authors describe their results and recommend strategies for instructors to successfully teach these skills. The article is also a useful resource for faculty who are interested in using student-active teaching methods and assessing them, since the authors describe their research methods and provide some of the resources that they used in their classes to assess their students. This article was published in Volume 5 of TIEE.
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Fitchburg State College, Dept. of Biology

Georgia College & State University, Dept. of Biological and Environmental Studies

Rider University, Dept. of Biology

Westfield State College, Dept. of Biology
Primary Author email
Rights Copyright 2007 by Chris Picone, Jennifer Rhode, Laura Hyatt, Tim Parshall, and the Ecological Society of America.
Date Of Record Submission 2007-10-17

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