Intro to Graphing
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Aug 8, 2014
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
Students are given 'Graphing I' and 'How do I Choose...' for the first phase of this exercise. Before starting the Graphing I exercise, I also includes a brief PowerPoint review that I have created (you may create your own) about graphing i.e., what is a graph and what a proper graph should include (e.g., title, axis labels, etc.). The Graphing I Excel file provides students with data already entered–they simply have to produce the graph, as well as an interpretive statement/scientific question (these instructions are on the Excel worksheets).
For the second phase, 'Graphing II' students are asked to work in groups to review data tables. Each group reviews the data and offers suggestions about what the data are 'saying', which graph would best represent the data, and what title, axis labels would be appropriate (again, the instructions are found on the worksheets). They are then to work independently to enter the data into Excel and produce graphs. Further instructions are located on Graphing I and II Excel worksheets.Graphing I (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 292kB Aug8 14)
Choosing a Graph (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 294kB Aug8 14)
Graphing II (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 15kB Aug8 14)
Usually for the third week and after I have reviewed student graph submissions, I create a PowerPoint presentation that includes some of the more instructive graphs (anonymously!). Students then participate in a "respectful" peer-review of the graphs.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Students need repetitive exercises in order to reinforce their skills and confidence in graphing. Graphing I and II are just the beginning for my students. They produce weekly graphs based on data they collect in the field.
I also encourage my students to write down the steps they took in creating their graphs. This can then be used as a reference (making sure they note the Excel version).