Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Investigating Student Understanding of Histograms: Pre-test Results


Statistics Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Histograms are adept at revealing the distribution of data values, especially the shape of the distribution and any outlier values. Histograms are included in introductory statistics texts, research methods texts, and in the popular press. Students often have difficulty interpreting what a histogram conveys. For example, delMas, Garfield and Ooms (2005) report that students tend to confuse bar graphs and time plots with histograms. This is especially problematic because histograms are important building blocks in student understanding of statistics. This research aims to further knowledge on how students perceive histograms and what we can do as instructors to help students spot misconceptions and correct them. In Phase 1 of our study, we collected data from winter 2012 classes at Grand Valley State University. We seek to answer the following research question: What is the extent of student misconceptions both before and after instruction in an introductory statistics class?This presentation will discuss findings from Phase 1 of our study.

Conference Name

JSM - Joint Statistical Meetings

Conference Location

San Diego, California

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