In Denizli, Turkey, 22 16-17-year-old students worked in groups to investigate whether there is any relationship between students’ moods, thoughts and behaviours (psychology) and the weather (daily temperature and weather conditions).
They also examined the relationship between students’ psychology and several other variables that each group was interested in, such as sleep time, finances, future anxiety, having eaten breakfast, parent’s health, gender and similar. The key skills that we have sought to develop include; formulating statistical questions, measuring and collecting data, using CODAP to organize and visualize data using dot plots, bar graphs and line graphs, describing data distributions and their characteristics, such as arithmetic mean, mode, median and standard deviation, interpreting data and drawing conclusions from data. The project took up approximately 17 class periods (each 40 minutes) over seven weeks.
The weather-related data, such as daily temperature and weather conditions, were gathered from the Turkish National Meteorology Office website and our other data, such as sleep time, finances etc., were collected by the students using questionnaires that they developed based on their research questions. Students had some prior statistical knowledge, such as visualizing and interpreting data and calculating the measures of central tendency and variability.
After the implementation of the first pilot project, we decided that an explicit focus was needed on the following: (1) emphasizing the notion of distribution as an aggregate group of data values, (2) the use of dot plot representation to visualize distribution shape, (3) discussion of what is a statistical question and what is not, and (4) a trial activity exploring how to use CODAP to organize and analyze data before the actual project.
Since students did not have prior experience with CODAP as a tool to explore data, a CODAP trial activity was implemented first to introduce how to use CODAP tools to organize and analyze within a sequence of tasks – part of the project. During this activity students explored reaction times and some other relevant variables by collecting data from fellow students in their class and other classrooms. This activity provided an opportunity to illustrate how the DA cycle can be used within a statistical investigation, as well as how the CODAP tools can be used to visualize data to compare distributions.
The project began with the introduction of a letter from the school’s Counselling Services Department asking whether students’ low motivation, bad marks, absenteeism and disputes among students are associated with the weather conditions. This motivated students to investigate if the weather and students’ psychology are related and whether students’ psychology are related with the variables other than the weather.
The students working in groups of three formulated their research questions in response to this letter and carried out a sample survey study in the school over five days in late December/Early January. After collecting data and recording them on paper, they organized the data (about 250-425 cases and 6-8 variables) in CODAP and analyzed it. After the analyses, they evaluated the results and made suggestions for what actions need to be taken. In the last 2 lessons, groups presented their findings to the class using the smart board and discussed them as a whole class.
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Some of the conclusions that they have reached based on their data analyses in CODAP were as follows:
The students increased their scores on both individual and group knowledge post-tests after the project. The most noticeable improvement was seen in comparing two distributions to make a decision. Additionally, the post attitude survey results suggest that students have more positive attitudes towards learning statistical concepts with technology and greater confidence in using technology tools.