the ease of obtaining a wide variety of representations diverted student

# The ease of obtaining a wide variety of

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the ease of obtaining a wide variety of representations, diverted student attention from the goals of the investigation to some extrinsic features of the tool. Experience in statistical investigations The students' lack of experience in conducting a statistical investigation causes, among other things, difficulties in gathering data, tabulating it in spreadsheet format (Kaput & Hancock, 1991), and inefficiencies in analysis methods. Students often failed to foresee the consequences of their strategies on the following stages of statistical problem solving. As they gained experience, they overcame some of these difficulties and were able to connect their goals and ideas to a suitable method of investigation. Context of investigation The context in which the original research question is embedded also affects the nature and statistical methods of student work. For example, as reported in the TERC project (Hancock et al., 1992), deep affective involvement and preconceptions related to the context of the planned investigation may lead some students to ignore statistical ideas and draw irrelevant conclusions. Similarly, in our experience, some topics enable the investigators to "take-off" to a higher mode of thought, whereas others leave their performance at a descriptive level. If, for example, the students' question is in a descriptive format (i.e., How many...? Who is the most...?), it may not encourage them to use higher cognitive modes, whereas a question about the relationship between two variables is likely to do that. The teacher can play a significant role in directing students to a potentially stimulating context, and in expanding and enriching the scope of their proposed work. Combining structured investigations and individual projects Work on structured statistical investigations, with a given set of data and research questions, helps students to gain experience in data analysis, in the application of statistical concepts, and in the process of
D. BEN-ZVI & A. FRIEDLANDER 54 drawing inferences. Work in parallel on individual projects allows students to experiment, restructure, and apply, in a creative and open manner, the ideas and concepts learned. This combination of the two strands stimulates students to progress in their use of statistical methods, modes of thinking, and reflection. They become aware of the wide variety of investigation strategies and possible interpretations of results, and finally, they learn to communicate their ideas in written and oral reports. Teacher actions An immediate consequence of working in a technological learning environment is that the teacher has more time to meet students on an individual basis, thereby understanding their needs better. On the other hand, the teacher loses some control; that is, the teacher is unable to monitor every detail of the students' actions. Teachers cease to be the dispensers of a daily dose of prescribed curriculum and must respond to a wide range of unpredictable events. In the initial stages, the teacher has an important role: Students need to