Tag Archives: data collection

276. Desk Data Collection

We’ve all been there. When you do a data topic, it’s nice to use class data – it is easier to discuss/compare and generates irregularities. The tricky bit is collecting it in!

Write it in your book – how do you get everyone else’s?
Write it on paper? – someone has to process the paper
Type it in a classlist on a computer? – long queue for computer, computer out of action if teacher needs to use it
Use a voting system (Qwizdom/Socrative etc)? – good, but subject to user error
Go around the class and read it out? – someone won’t be listening!
Write it on the board? – someone won’t do it/ will put a daft number/ rub out someone else’s result

This was such a nice idea – real life data processed and interpreted by students. We need a quick, accurate data collection solution which ensures everyone contributes. All the ideas above have merit, but how to combine them?

Inspiration struck when I was trying to do this with a bubbly Y10 class – how could I tell if they all contributed to the data? How could I keep track of deliberately daft answers? How can you stop the general milling around and gossiping at the board as they descend on it?

The desks!

While your class is measuring, sketch out your desk plan on the board. Students write their result in their desk space.

(You can see below that we collected hand span data. The start and finish indicated the smallest and largest widths for listing the numbers in order.)


You can keep track of who is finished, without having to stand at the front checking who has contributed. Once the desks are full, you are done. The data collection is structured and you have time to set up the next task.

No fancy technology or processes required!

225. Surveying the Monkeys

Designing good survey questions is an excellent way to discuss bias and structure, however carrying out the survey is always the tricky bit.

  • Do you ask the class next door? Always seems more of a social exercise than work
  • Do you set it as homework? Bit hit and miss: mum, dad, nan, dog & a couple of fictional people
  • Do you survey your form? Will they take it seriously?

No matter how you do it, the results are always sparse and barely useable for a data processing task. How can you get a reasonable data set, generated by pupils, for pupils to use?

I’ve mentioned SurveyMonkey in a previous blog post. It is an online data collection tool with free and subscription services.  I asked my Year 9 pupils to write five themed questions, which I then typed into SurveyMonkey. Each set of questions was on a separate page.



I then used our home/school communication system to email a link to the survey to every pupil in their year group, with a covering email. You could distribute the link by asking your fellow maths teachers to tell their classes.

I set the first page of the survey as a list of maths teachers. When my class did the survey they were taken to a class list which they ticked off their name and then did the survey. All other classes were taken straight to the survey. In this way the survey results are anonymous, but I know whether my class have completed it (this was their homework). After two weeks we had 100 completed surveys, out of about 200 pupils. This is an amazing completion rate!

While the data was being collected we looked at data processing skills that would be necessary to collate and process the results. The image below is a sample of the collected data printed from Excel.



After the results were in I printed out a copy of each set of questions and an Excel spreadsheet of their survey results for each group. The themes chosen were: Movies, Music, Shopping, Animals & Sport.


It’s now time for my class to report back on their theme, after dealing with a large data set with anomalies and relate it to their year group. When they have finished I will add a picture of their wall displays. I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop their ideas.

102. Can you stay out of the Boardroom?


The Apprentice regularly features its contestants failing to listen to what people want, often with disastrous results.

  •  They carry out market research with the wrong people or not enough people.
  • They assume the people they are asking are brilliant or thick. Seriously, you won’t find a world class wine expert working in the local supermarket!
  • They don’t change their product to meet the needs of the people.
  • Worse than that – they ignore the brief!

It all of this leads to one place: The Boardroom

Can your pupils avoid being fired?

I’ve been using ‘The Apprentice’ as an inspiration for a data handling project for years and I’ve finally typed up a resource to go with it.

Download Would Lord Sugar invest in you? worksheet