Lesson 5

Using Dot Plots to Answer Statistical Questions

Lesson Narrative

In this lesson, students continue to use dot plots to develop their understanding of center and spread—by identifying values of center, describing spread, comparing centers and spreads of different distributions, and making use of the structure of the distributions (MP7) to understand them in the context of situations (MP2). In future lessons, they will make their descriptions and analyses more precise, as they learn about measures of center and spread. 

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Compare and contrast (orally and in writing) dot plots that represent two different data sets measuring the same quantity, paying attention to the “center” and “spread” of each distribution.
  • Critique or justify (orally and in writing) claims about the center of a distribution represented on a dot plot.

Student Facing

Let's use dot plots to describe distributions and answer questions.

Learning Targets

Student Facing

  • I can use a dot plot to represent the distribution of a data set and answer questions about the real-world situation.
  • I can use center and spread to describe data sets, including what is typical in a data set.

CCSS Standards

Building On


Building Towards

Glossary Entries

  • center

    The center of a set of numerical data is a value in the middle of the distribution. It represents a typical value for the data set.

    For example, the center of this distribution of cat weights is between 4.5 and 5 kilograms.

    Dot plot from 2 to 12 by 1’s. Cat weights in kilograms. Beginning at 3, number of dots above each increment is 2, 4, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 3, 1.
  • distribution

    The distribution tells how many times each value occurs in a data set. For example, in the data set blue, blue, green, blue, orange, the distribution is 3 blues, 1 green, and 1 orange.

    Here is a dot plot that shows the distribution for the data set 6, 10, 7, 35, 7, 36, 32, 10, 7, 35.

    a dot plot that shows the distribution for the data set 6, 10, 7, 35, 7, 36, 32, 10, 7, 35.
  • frequency

    The frequency of a data value is how many times it occurs in the data set.

    For example, there were 20 dogs in a park. The table shows the frequency of each color.

    color frequency
    white 4
    brown 7
    black 3
    multi-color 6
  • spread

    The spread of a set of numerical data tells how far apart the values are.

    For example, the dot plots show that the travel times for students in South Africa are more spread out than for New Zealand.

    dot plots showing travel times for students in South Africa and New Zealand