The visual side to numeracy: Students’ sensemaking with graphics

Carmel Diezmann, Tom Lowrie, Lindy Sugars, Tracy Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 21st century has placed increasing demand on individual’s proficiency with a wide array of visual representations, that is graphics (Harris, 1996). Hence, proficiency with visual tasks needs to be embedded across the curriculum (National Academies, 2006). In mathematics, various graphics (e.g., maps, charts, number lines, graphs) are used as a means of communication of mathematical ideas and also as tools for thinking about these ideas. Thus, to be numerate in contemporary society, all individuals need to make sense of the graphical aspects of mathematics. Although an understanding of representations is critical for numeracy (Pugalee, 1999), proficiency with graphics in mathematics is often overlooked. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the six key types of graphics used in mathematics and to provide some suggestions for developing students’ ability to interpret each of these types of graphics. As a background to the discussion on types of graphics, two roles of graphics are first discussed. The ability to create graphics has been described elsewhere
(Diezmann, 2002)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Primary Mathematics Classroom
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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