Teaching and Learning with Plots and Graphs


Introduction to Plots and Graphs

By actively exploring and analyzing data using Venn diagrams, bar graphs, stack plots, pie charts and axis plots to interpret information and draw conclusions, students develop data literacy. Data literacy allows the learner to ask and answer meaningful questions by collecting, analyzing and making sense of the data encountered in real life.


Plots and Graphs Definition

Plots and graphs are a type of visual learning diagram that visually represents a relationship between sets of numbers as a set of points having coordinates determined by that relationship.




Benefits of Plots and Graphs

Venn diagrams, bar graphs, pie graphs and axis plots offer students multiple ways to visualize and investigate data. As students organize and analyze data, they ask meaningful questions and dig deeper to solve problems. Moving beyond simply memorizing facts, students acquire the skills of reasoning, inquiry and communication. Building data literacy makes for a richer, more meaningful experience.


How to Use Different Types of Plots and Graphs in the Classroom

Students can analyze data using integrated plots and determine the most appropriate way to visualize information. As students visualize data as it moves through the types of plots, they formulate and discover meaning from the visual representation.

  • Venn Plots - A Venn plot is a powerful way to describe and compare attributes by separating objects into groups based on their characteristics. Educators and students use venn plots to show relationships between mathematical sets or can be used to identify the commonalities and differences between things, people, places, historical events, ideas or physical attributes.

           Venn Diagram Example


  • Bar Charts – A bar chart is ideal for analyzing distributions and measurements of central tendency (mean, median, and mode).

                  Bar Chart Example


  • Stack Plots – A stack plot displays the distribution of values within one field of a database. Stack plots are used to represent a range of data for one variable. Frequently referred to as “sorting bins” you can sort or group data by the selected variable into one of the bins. The height of the stack is proportional to the number in the bin. Stack plots are ideal for comparison activities.

                Stack Plot Example


  • Pie Plots – A pie plot shows the distribution of values within one field of a database. The sizes of the pie’s slices are proportional to the percentage of records within in each category. Pie plots are used to graphically represent the distribution of the entire set of data. Patterns can be easily identified, as well as values that have the largest or smallest representations. Pie plots can be used to illustrate percentages of a whole or to numerically represent a category of facts.

                  Pie Plot Example


Axis Plots – An axis plot (also known as a scatter plot) is an ideal way to investigate correlations. By choosing different variables for the X and Y axes, students can use the resulting plots to examine relationships between the variable.

                  Axis Plot Example


Plots and Graphs in Education

Using data to connect school subjects with real-world events makes learning a richer and more meaningful experience as students move beyond simply learning facts and begin to acquire the skills of reasoning, inquiry and communication. As a result, students develop deeper content knowledge and strengthen critical thinking.

Students who are data literate are better able to:

  • Formulate questions
  • Collect and organize data systematically to identify patterns and discover relationships
  • Represent data in different types of plots to yield different results
  • Develop conclusions and make recommendations based on data analysis

Using Inspiration Software®’s powerful data analysis tool InspireData® students are guided as they visually explore data in science, mathematics and social studies. These strategies improve data literacy and strengthen important analytical skills. Learn more


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