The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides interactive software to create five different types of graphs and print and/or download the results in a variety of formats, e.g., .pdf, .jpg, etc. The graphs may also be stored on NCES servers for 30 days if needed and then accessed and downloaded during that time. The types of graphs are: pie, bar, line, area, and x-y graphs. The site also includes exercises with links that encourage whimsical exploration of educational statistics throughout the world.
Type of Material:
Simulation. Links to a variety of educational refernce material.
Classroom demo; student tutorial and enrichment. Production of graphs for student projects.
Java-enabled Web browser running Adobe Flash Player
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To encourage the user to make effective use of graphs in presentations.
Target Student Population:
K-12 and college students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic knowledge of graphs
Evaluation and Observation
The software is efficient and the interface is easily understood.. In addition to the five basic graph types (pie, bar, line, area, and x-y graphs), the variety of format choices and colors is impressive, as is the ability to download, save and print the results in different formats. Graphs can be custom labeled as data is entered.
The site also includes items that encourage wider exploration of educational data, such as links to NCES statistics on individual schools and colleges (including current web site information). Dare to Compare links to TIMSS data and allows national and international comparison of test results. Grab Bag includes math teasers and mathematicians. Chances is a simulation of rolling two dice with attractive visuals
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
There is an extensive Create A Graph Tutorial for beginners but those familiar with graphs may begin the construction applet immediately. The tutorial includes definitions and advice on how to select a graph type with good examples of each. In addition, for those who are completely new at creating graphs, there is a link to Create A Graph Classic that provides a more extensive interface for the graph construction. Teachers at any level could have their students make use of the tutorial on a self-study basis or they could present the software in class.
The example graphs were informative; the use of real-world data gave an indication of the effectiveness of graphical presentation.
The graphical style of the web pages might suggest kindergarten as the target audience whereas the content could benefit high school and college students.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site navigation is simple and effective at encouraging both casual exploration and actual use of the tools with real data. The actual graph creator is a relatively powerful tool in its own right.
There are links to several graph examples; however, accessing these links occasionally tended to cause IE 6.0 to freeze in Windows XP Professional.