Teaching students how to distinguish between independent and dependent variables seems to be high on teachers’ list of concerns when teaching data skills. It appears to be one of the first decisions emphasized when students start to graph points from a table in an XY scatter plot. Which variable should go on which axis? Much is made about being sure to identify the independent (or predictor) variable so it can, by convention, go on X, and the response variable on Y.

When do students need to recognize the difference between independent and dependent variables? Why is distinguishing between independent and dependent variables important?

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