, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 1125–1138 | Cite as

Dot plots and hat plots: supporting young students emerging understandings of distribution, center and variability through modeling

  • Jill Fielding-WellsEmail author
Original Article


An important use of statistical models and modeling in education stems from the potential to involve students more deeply with conceptions of distribution, variation and center. As models are key to statistical thinking, introducing students to modeling early in their schooling will likely support the statistical thinking that underpins later, more advanced work with increasingly sophisticated statistical models. In this case study, a class of 10–11 year-old students are engaged in an authentic task designed to elicit modeling. Multiple data sources were used to develop insights into student learning: lesson videotape, work samples and field notes. Through the use of dot plots and hat plots as data models, students made comparisons of the data sets, articulated the sources of variability in the data, sought to minimize the variability, and then used their models to both address the initial problem and to justify the effectiveness of their attempts to reduce induced variation. This research has implications for statistics curriculum in the early formal years of schooling.


Statistical model Statistical modeling Statistical inquiry Distribution Variability Model eliciting activities 



THIS work was supported by funding from the Australian Research Council under DP170101993. The author wishes to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the teacher and students engaged in this research.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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