### July 6-11, 1998 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

1998 Summer Institute || Participant Projects || List of Participants || Sum98 Staff || Agenda

## A data-collecting class activity

#### Margaret Sinclair

When doing statistics units with grade 9's I used to assign them to conduct a survey and bring in the results so the class could find mean, median and mode, construct histograms and produce graphs. It was often frustrating if the students didn't do their homework or collected such a small survey that trends weren't noticeable. Using data from databases was one solution but it usually didn't hold their attention.

The solution for me has been to collect data from class members as an in-class activity. This produces thirty-two answers (if there are two classes the data can be pooled) to assorted questions, carefuly chosen to ensure that some data will be categorical, some will provide integer results and some will offer continuous results. At the same time I include some questions that require students to get out of their seats and cooperate with others in groups, such as counting situps, timing pulses, and measuring jumps. This has made the activity a favorite with my students.

### Logistics

As you can see from the table below, I write three questions in 8 groups, A to H - one a categorical question such as "What's your favorite animal?", one such as "How many phones do you have?" that will produce integer answers, and one such as "How many centimeters can you jump?" that produces continuous data. I divide the class into eight groups of four and call them A, B, C, .... H. Each student answers all 24 questions. Group A is then given all the answers to the questions in section A, Group B gets the answers in B, and so forth.

In groups, the students tally the results and then determine the most effective ways to present and analyse their data. They are required to use at least three different display techniques and to find any measures of central tendency that are appropriate. (This provides a good opportunity to point out that you can't have a mean "favorite animal.") The groups then present their finished projects to the class.

This unit usually takes three classes to complete. The first day we collect the data; the second day the students work in their groups on their graphs, charts and calculations; and the third day is for presentations.

On Tuesday afternoon Margaret presented this activity to the Sum98 onsite participants. We were divided into groups to complete the questionnaires, and after each individual had answered the questions (measuring in centimeters, with much jumping up and down and energetic situps around the sides of the room), we were split into four subgroups (A and C, B and D, E and G, F and H), and each of the four groups got one of the subgroups of questions and responses to analyze.

Margaret noted that this activity lends itself nicely to speadsheet and group work. Participants decided on and then drew up different kinds of graphs to represent the data. Afterwards, participants discussed how the web could facilitate this kind of data-collecting activity, which resulted in an ongoing discussion thread in geometry-institutes.