NSF RDE TinkerPlots

Project Purpose (Research Question/Problem Statement):  

Landmark College will investigate the effectiveness of TinkerPlots (software developed as part of NSF grant DRL-9818946) as a tool in helping students with a diagnosed LD develop an understanding of key concepts in statistics. The approach will be pilot tested in introductory statistics courses at Landmark College in Putney, VT, as well as comparable level courses at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, MA. The students at Landmark College will consist exclusively of individuals with a diagnosis that affects their learning whereas the students at Holyoke Community College will serve as a comparison group reflecting a more typical student profile, one that includes students with disabilities and other conditions that influence learning (e.g. first-generation college status, minority status, primary language other than English). The goal of this project is to increase the number of students with LD who successfully complete introductory statistics courses and who develop a strong enough grasp of the concepts to consider furthering their education in a STEM field. This two year project is intended as a demonstration project and proof of concept that can increase the number and diversity of students who can successfully understand and work with statistical data and hence pursue careers in data driven STEM fields.

Project Description:

NSF RDE Grant HRD-1128948: Investigating the Effectiveness of TinkerPlots in Helping Students with Learning Disabilities Understand Statistical Concepts

For many STEM fields, the ability to understand statistics and perform data analysis is an essential component of that field. In fact, today’s scientists are increasingly expected to be expert statisticians. This makes developing an understanding of statistical concepts and being able to truly comprehend and work with a dataset essential to the successful pursuit of many STEM careers. These skills are not merely important in order to pass statistical courses that are often gate keepers in scientific STEM academic programs, but they are essential parts of the daily work of most scientists, engineers, network administrators, and others in the STEM arena.Sample graph of statistical data using Tinkerplots

Statistics is becoming such a critical component of our daily lives that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics proposes introducing statistical concepts to students as early as first grade (NCTM, 2000). Unfortunately, most adults tend to form incorrect interpretations of statistical data (Konold, 1995) and often rely or shortcuts or heuristics rather than sound statistical reasoning (Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky, 1982). Given these findings one would be correct in deducing that students generally struggle in traditional statistical classrooms and often have trouble reasoning about aggregate data. However advances in technology have allowed for the development of tools that allow us to quickly produce, manipulate, and represent large amounts of data. One particular tool, TinkerPlots (Konold & Miller, 2005), has shown promise in enhancing the understanding of students ranging from elementary school to graduate school (Paparistodemou & Meletiou-Mavrotheris, 2008; Lesh, Ader, & Bas, 2010).


Initial implementation and data gathering is currently being implemented.

For additional information, please call, e-mail or write us at:

Landmark College Institute
for Research and Training

PO Box 820
1 River Road South
Putney, VT 05346