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Figure of the Week: Environmental Data Analysis/Statistics Version

By Jennifer Prairie

University of San Diego

Adaptation of Figure of the Day activity used on a weekly basis in an environmental data analysis/statistics course.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Biology Students Math Attitudes and Anxiety Program (BIOMAAP): a QUBES Faculty Mentoring Network

Version 1.0 - published on 06 Jun 2019 doi:10.25334/Q4SB4F - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Adapted from: Figure of the Day v 1.0


This adaptation of the original BIOMAAP Figure of the Day resource was used weekly in an environmental data analysis/statistics course (sophomore undergraduate level for environmental and ocean science majors). 

Each week (same day of the week ideally so students expect it and it becomes part of their routine), the figure of the week is projected at the very beginning of class. Students were told to brainstorm with their neighbors for the first 5 minutes or so. Things that they were told to look for were types of variables (explanatory vs. response variables, categorical vs. numerical variables, etc.) and any clues about what those variables might be (values of the response variables or other clues). After students had a few minutes to brainstorm, I solicited responses from the class. A student's response may be an observation, which you can ask them elaborate on. Or a student's response may be a prediction (i.e. "I think the x-axis might represent time"), in which case you might ask them to explain why they made that guess/prediction. It is better not to tell students they are right/wrong, and it is important to emphasize (especially at the beginning of the semester when the activity is still new) that the idea is not necessarily to get to the right answer as a class, but look for clues and try to reason out ideas. If students are especially quite or get stuck, you might prompt them a bit more specifically (i.e. "Who notices something about the x-axis?"). 

In the attached powerpoint, the figures are in the order that they were used in my class, and labeled in the notes section with the week of the course that they corresponded to and the topics that were being covered that week since it may be helpful for someone else trying to use this resource fo a similar type class. In some weeks (but not all), the figure of the week was chosen to align with a specific concept from the course.


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Biology Students Math Attitudes and Anxiety Program (BIOMAAP): a QUBES Faculty Mentoring Network

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