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Seventh Graders' Statistical Literacy: an Investigation on Bar and Line Graphs

The aim of the current study was to investigate the statistical literacy of seventh grade students regarding the concepts of average and variation on bar and line graphs presented in alternative real-life contexts. To this end, the statistical literacy levels of the seventh grade students were initially determined. Subsequently, definitions, interpretations and evaluations generated by the students at varying levels of statistical literacy were examined in further depth. More specifically, a qualitative survey study was conducted with 164 seventh graders from two public middle schools in Ankara, Turkey. The data, collected by means of a-five-item instrument, were analyzed by utilizing the modified version of the six-hierarchical-level framework developed by Watson and Callingham (Statistics Education Research Journal, 2(2), 3-46, 2003). The findings revealed that most of the students' statistical literacy levels were identified as either Level 3 or Level 4 in the framework with respect to the concept of average, and either Level 1 or Level 2 with respect to the concept of variation. Hence, it can be inferred that while many of the students could interpret average in the given contexts, they had difficulty in interpreting variation. Although definitions and evaluations related to both concepts were found difficult by seventh graders, the graphs, particularly bar graphs, which students were provided with, were observed to be helpful for students in their evaluation of variation. Additionally, students benefitted from some of the contexts they were provided while evaluating variation. Finally, the analysis revealed some discrepancies among students' definitions and their interpretations or evaluations.