This paper reports one recent study that was part of a project investigating tertiary students’ understanding of variation. These students completed a questionnaire prior to, and at the end of, an introductory statistics course and this paper focuses on interviews of selected students designed to determine whether more information could have been gathered about the students’ reasoning. Clarification during interviews reinforced researcher interpretation of responses. Prompting assisted students to develop better quality responses but probing was mostly useful for assisting students to re-express reasoning already presented. Cognitive conflict situations proved challenging. The diversity of activities identified by students as assisting the development of their understanding provides a challenge for educators in planning teaching sequences. Both educators and researchers need to listen to students to better understand the development of reasoning.
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