Some Reflections from Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Practice Teaching on the Area of Understanding Data in the Math-Teaching Course 1

By Temur, Özlem Dogan; Dag, Serap Akbaba et al. | International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, June 2015 | Go to article overview

Some Reflections from Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Practice Teaching on the Area of Understanding Data in the Math-Teaching Course 1


Temur, Özlem Dogan, Dag, Serap Akbaba, Turgut, Sedat, International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education


Introduction

Math is not only a field about numbers and calculations but also a system that finds a place in many circumstances encountered in daily life. Developing technology offers a very rich visual world mankind. Maybe, primary school students are the group that spends the most effort trying to explain that visual world. It is because seeing and explaining many elements like figures, numbers, data, words etc. together is a process that have just been learnt. Primary school students will come across graphs and data not only in math lessons but also in science and social sciences and try to set some relationships. Therefore, the topic of data and its teaching is very important from an elementary teachers' point of view. Topic of a graph in primary school provides an introduction to statistics, another branch of mathematics. Statistics, to answer a question, includes important skills like collecting data, summarizing data, making sense of data, interpreting, concluding for the future and deciding. Acquisition of the skills of data collection, data summation, making sense of data and inference are established as goals in primary schools (Olkun & Toluk Ucar, 2004).

Primary school students should be active in the problem-solving processes (forming questions and their answers, collecting data and its presentation, data analysis, and data inferences) about data. Teachers should encourage students to collect data and interpret them. Studying questions like "Let's assume that," and "What if...happens," provides students to better define the data analysis period and its nature (Franklin & Mewborn 2008). Real world is full of data and its sources. Children need to ask and answer real world questions like 'what?', 'how?', 'when?', 'where?', 'who?', 'why?' to collect data, to organize the data they collected, and to interpret. Therefore, it could be said that data analysis has more significance than in just forming and reading data. Children need to make judgments to collect data. When, at the first stage, facing prompting questions asked by their teachers, children feel a need to collect data. When a teacher says, "I think, plain ice cream would be the most loved ice cream in this class," the children will want to find out what kind of ice cream is the most loved one (Cathart, Pothier, Vance & Bezuk, 2006). Primary school students need to have developed some set of skills to find out the answers of the questions that they are curious about. Acquisition of these sets of basic skills since preschool constitutes an important section of the primary and secondary school mathematics education programs.

Children should come across, since preschool, activities that are aimed to develop the skills of ranking, sequencing, and analyzing. They label the properties of the objects by using characterizations like red, hot and circles. This kind of activities increases the skills of classification and comparison of groups with similarities and differences (Van de Walle, 2010). The first experiences of the students in the topic of data are their encounter with the objects whose properties are easily noticed. These kinds of objects and qualification cards are easy to produce or to obtain by the teachers, too. Some students start by classifying only one property, some can classify according to different properties, too. Teachers should help their students think in different ways when the students classify objects. Venn diagrams are one of the ways that facilitates students' job in classifying multiple properties of the objects. Overlapping circles simplify classifying multiple properties of the objects. Objects that fall outside of the categories will stay outside of the circles (Bahr & Garcia, 2010).

Primary school mathematics education program sees forming problems that could be answered by table or by summarizing in the form of graphs as fundamental purpose of teaching the topic of data. Giving precedence to activities of data, data analysis, simple classification for understanding statistics, comparison, and counting, the mathematics teaching program emphasizes that students form questions, which are meaningful in and of themselves and determine the answers given to those questions, that the students should be directed to organize given answers; and then, that students can present data they collected in both tables and graphs. …

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