Math You Need > Graphing > Plotting Points > Plotting Points - Instructor

Helping students plot data
An instructor's guide to Plotting Points

Because many introductory geoscience courses deal with graphs and graphing, we have designed this page to help to remind students how to use the Cartesian coordinate system. This page includes a very basic discussion of how to find the placement of a point on a binary plot.

What should the student get out of this page?

This page is designed to help students learn the basics of plotting points on a graph. By the time the students complete the module, they should be comfortable with:

Why is it hard for students?

Most students will not struggle with this concept, this is merely an important review for them. However, the students who do have difficulty with graphing may struggle struggle because:

What did we leave out of this page?

This page only covers binary plots and generally has only positive numbers plotted on the graphs shown. Although there are instances of ternary plots in the geosciences, we felt that these plots are more common in upper level geoscience courses and were not appropriate for this particular page. We also do not address more difficult non-linear axes such as logarithmic or semi-log axes.

Instructor resources

Lee Marek at University of Illinois Chicago has a graphing rules page with information for students about how to graph a data set.

GeoMaths has a page designed to walk students through the important steps of graphing.

Mathworld has a complex definition of graph with links to multiple types of graphs.

The Center for Support of Teaching and Learning at Syracuse University has two tutorials for students that covers the visual display of information on graphs.

There are also several activities and exercises available on the Teach the Earth part of SERC.

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