Inquiry Strategies
for the Journey North Teacher

Making Sense of Data

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As scientists gather data and later try to make sense of (interpret) it, they look closely for patterns or relationships that might "tell" them something significant. They use their imaginations and think logically about this new information and relate it to what they already know and to others' findings. Then they make an overall statement or explanation. They also think about how findings connect to larger ideas. (Other people may interpret the data differently and pose alternative explanations, which can spark further research.) The data might offer little help in answering a question or supporting a hypothesis, but could suggest other questions or avenues of research.

Questions That Help Students Make Sense of Data
Dealing with Unusual Findings
Explaining What Happened
Responding to Misconceptions and "Wrong" Answers
Asking, "So What?" The Implications of Research