IA skills: adding standard deviation error bars in google sheets

Statistics can be a troublesome issue to deal with when working with ESS data. Although the IA guidance from IB does not explicitly state what statistics should be used, it is prudent to include at least averages and standard deviation where appropriate when processing data. With a little Google trickery these statistics can be added as error bars to graphs which will enable students then to add discussions of significanc of these to their IA's.

Why would I need to calculate the standard deviation of my results?

Here are some reasons why you need to calculate the SD

  • It allows you to measure the spread of your data
  • It will then inform you if you need to conduct further statistical analysis such as the Mann Whitney U test

The use of Google sheets for graphing standard deviation bars

Although most teachers have traditionally steered students towards the use of microsoft Excel to construct graphs with standard deviation error bars, there are now a couple of workarounds so students can do this in Google sheets. Although the process seems "clunky" , most students will pick it up quicker than teachers I'm sure!

The following two videos show how this can be done and I have constructed a worksheet using screenshots from the video itself. Remember, that if your students want to construct either bar charts or scatter plots with stand deviation error bars, they must then include the significance of these in further writing in their discussion or conclusion sections of the IA. 


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