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The Use of Spreadsheets for Constructing Statistical Understanding

, University of San Francisco, United States

JCMST Volume 16, Number 2, ISSN 0731-9258 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


This paper describes an attempt to systematically incorporate "active learning" into the structure of an elective course designed to instruct students in computer-based approaches to statistics. Active learning was implemented primarily by having students create educational worksheets which would instruct a novice about specific statistical concepts. This format led participants to become involved in the process of mathematical storytelling. The in-built features of the spreadsheet program that were important to the goals of the course included (a) ability to create multiple representations of statistical measures, (b) ability to create number playgrounds as mini-simulations, (c) ability to incorporate story lines, (d) the opportunity for creativity, and (e) the power of open-ended software programs. The student-developed educational worksheets displayed a wide variety of key features including (a) storytelling, (b) posing challenges, (c) artistic impact, (d) incorporating better visual representations, (e) including interactivity, and (f) choosing more sophisticated examples. This approach to statistics instruction appeared to result in both high student learning and high student motivation to learn.


Mitchell, M. (1997). The Use of Spreadsheets for Constructing Statistical Understanding. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 16(2), 201-222. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved September 19, 2020 from .