Variety of strategies used to teach data analysis and conclusion writing in Freshmen Physics
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Due to our data driven society, students should understand how to make sense of graphs and be able to apply them. Educators need to teach students how to analyze data, communicate that understanding, and pose new questions. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) places a heavy importance on analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and engaging in an argument from evidence due to an increasing need for this skill in the labor force. Two classes of freshmen physics learned techniques in reading, analyzing, and interpreting data to understand physics concepts. They were taught how to spot trends in data tables as well as graphs and used www.desmos.com to find lines of best fit equations. They tried to understand what the equation represented and why the phenomena occurred. Then using their equation, they made a prediction and explained the reasons for their confidence in that prediction. Lastly, they thought of new experiments they could do based on this latest information and how businesses could use data similar. This is a modified version of the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) conclusion in science classrooms. Since many of the lab reports were done as a group, the action research assessed in this document was not done from students' experiments, but data provided on students' individual tests. Pre- and post-tests, surveys, interviews, and group discussions were reviewed. It was found many students began the course with the ability to make a prediction based on an equation. They quickly figured out how to spot patterns in the data to make a claim. However, the most challenging for students was to explain the phenomena and provide confidence in their prediction. Students did not say any one component was much harder or important than another. Students were overconfident in their ability to explain their confidence scientifically throughout the year. In all, students found a variety of activities helpful as they continued to grow throughout the year.