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Evaluating data: Children�s and adults� use of data characteristics in comparing sets of data
Dr. Amy Masnick
Thursday, December 13, 2007, 12:00pm - 07:00pm
Hofstra University, Department of Psychology
When data are encountered in everyday reasoning, most often the data interpretationdoes not require explicit calculations, but instead involves either estimation or more holisticjudgments. Much past research has focused on the context of data, without paying direct attentionto data characteristics children use and attend to. I will present evidence from a series of studiesdemonstrating that children pay attention to sample size and some types of variability when drawingconclusions from datasets. Adults show more clear-cut evidence of using these characteristics,both independently and in concert. In particular, reaction time studies demonstrate that even ona very short time course, adults can evaluate sets of data and use data characteristics(e.g., difference between means, variance) to make quick, accurate assessments of relativequantities. These results suggest an estimation ability similar to that which permits rapidcomparison of single numbers, and these rapid estimations lead to similar patterns of respondingas when evaluating data more systematically.