Charlene Brown
  This is the second lesson in a two-part project consisting of: (1) Statistics: Determining mean, range, median, mode and probability (2) Statistics: Reading and interpreting production graphs

  Consumer education, Critical thinking, Employability, General education development (GED), Interpersonal relationships, Job skills, Mathematics, Numeracy, Problem solving, Sciences, Technology, Vocabulary development

Learner Level:

Time Frame:
  2--2 hour class sessions

Learner Grouping:
  Individual, Small group, Whole class

  This activity was conducted in a small manufacturing plant where employees were having trouble understanding the graphs of the previous day's production for their shifts.

  Not available

  Jefferson County Public Schools Adult Education

Type of Program:

Student Population Served:
  Basic skills (grade levels 5-8.9)

Statistics: Reading and interpreting production graphs

Participants learn how to interpret and create different types of graphs. Participants will analyze data presented in charts to complete assignments. They will then work as a group to devise a project in which they will develop surveys to test a certain hypothesis. The group will design appropriate graphic illustrations and make a presentation before the class. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:
Participants will be able to read, interpret and create graphs to show information in a quick, concise manner.

Primary Skill:
Read with understanding

Secondary Skills:
Use math to solve problems and communicate

Learner Needs & Goals:
Frequently employees are asked to participate in team discussions and meetings to make decisions based on data that is presented in a graphic format. When employees are unable to interpret the data correctly, they are unable to participate fully and competently in the decision making process.

Learning Activity Description
Class Meeting #1
1. Introduce the lesson by dividing participants into four teams, by having each participant choose one of four different flavors of candies. Like flavors are in the same group.

2. Give each team a different photograph or picture from a magazine or newspaper. Take care to refer to the pictures as a snapshot. Explain that the teams are to assign the following roles to team members: recorder, reporter, timekeeper, and facilitator. After 3-5 minutes, have each team report a news story explaining what is happening in the snapshot that the team was given. (If possible, provide enlargements or transparencies of the pictures to use in reporting.)

3. After all teams have reported, explain that a graph is a snapshot of information about a certain subject. Graphs make it easier to get a quick impression of a great deal of data, and they make it easier to make comparisons and draw conclusions. Graphs are found everywhere. Ask participants to name some places they have seen graphs-in the newspaper, in magazines, in training manuals, and on bulletin boards at the company.

4. Show the PBS/LiteracyLink #61650; Workplace Essential Skills Series video titled Trends and Predictions: Graphs and Data if you have access to it. Allow time for questions and answers and pause the video when necessary. If you do not have the video, continue the discussion about how graphs are used at the participants’ company.

5. Display samples of the five basic types of graphs-the pictograph, the circle graph, the bar graph, the line graph, and charts and tables. Display and explain each of the following:

  • The pictograph uses pictures or symbols to display information. The pictograph usually has a key to show the value of each symbol. They are read by counting the symbols on a line of the graph and computing their value.
  • The circle graph uses parts of a circle to show information. Circle graphs show values in each part of a divided circle. Each part of a circle graph is called a segment or a section.
  • The bar graph uses thick bars to show information. Bar graphs can be drawn with the bars running up and down (vertically). The bars are placed at equal distances along the horizontal axis that runs across the bottom of the graph. Bar graphs can also be drawn with the bars running from left to right (horizontally). The bars are placed at equal distances along the vertical axis on the left side of the graph. Bar graphs may also have a key to show additional information.
  • The line graph is drawn with one or more thin lines that extend across the graph. A line graph also used values along a horizontal and a vertical axis. A line graph is most useful in showing trends and developments over a period of time.
  • Charts and tables show specific values by listing numbers and words in columns and rows. Charts are most often used to compare values of one item with another.
  • A table is a list of words and numbers written in rows and columns. Columns are read up and down. Rows are read across.

6. Assign each team an exercise containing one sample of each type of graph accompanied by a worksheet. Sample questions on the worksheet could include the following:

  • What type of graph is pictured?
  • What does this graph show?
  • During what month did a particular event occur?
  • What was the total number of widgets produced in September?

7. Each team also receives one unique set of data from which they are to prepare an appropriate graph.

8. After each team has completed the questions, ask them to decide upon a subject for a project that will result in a presentation before the entire class. Help the class to develop a checklist to evaluate the projects. Some criteria suggested by participants may include the number of questions to be surveyed; the number of graphs; and, individual participation.

9. The teams decide upon a project, for example, the number of employees who are bald or haired, female or male, or the number of parts produced hour by hour). Have the team members decide upon a plan for conducting the research.

Class Meeting #2
1. Have teams compile their research findings into a presentation. They should then practice this presentation. After practice, teams evaluate their own presentation using the agreed upon checklist from the previous class meeting

2. As each team makes its presentation, the other teams should use the checklist to evaluate the presentation. When the presentation is completed, give the evaluating teams 5 minutes to confer in order to prepare evaluation suggestions. Repeat this process for each team.

Materials and Resources:

  • Snapshots or pictures from a newspaper or magazine. (If possible, overhead transparencies of these pictures should be made.)
  • Sample graphs made from workplace production data from several shifts (If possible, overhead transparencies of these pictures should be made.)
  • Samples of graphs from newspapers and magazines
  • Samples of graphs from safety manual from the participants’ workplace
  • Profit statements from the participants’ workplace(s), their insurance company, or other report showing multiple weeks, months, or years worth of data.
  • PBS/LiteracyLink #61650; Workplace Essential Skills Series video titled Trends and Predictions: Graphs and Data available through KET, The Kentucky Network - Enterprise Division, 560 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502-2200, phone (800) 354-9067.


Teams will combine the evaluations for their presentations into one or more graphs. The instructor will use a checklist developed by the class as a large group to determine whether the graph is appropriate for presenting the results of the surveys and how well the individuals on the teams performed during the class meetings.

I would use an extra class period for additional planning and research. The skills learned in this class related specifically to the employees’ jobs and were used that day at the workplace.


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