Tag Archives: survey

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.

219. Good question, Bad question 1

It’s been a while since I’ve done a step by step instruction post, so I thought I would share this lesson on questions and surveys.


  • To understand bias in questions
  • To consider how to structure answer options.


  • Exercise books or paper
  • Pens
  • Ruler/straight edge
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Step 1

Write out your usual headings: title, date, objective etc. Cut across the page to the spine. Stick the title page to the lower page.

Step 2

Fold the lower half of the page in half and cut down the fold.

Step 3

Fold the loose piece of paper into four equal pieces. Mark the fold positions in the book.


Step 4

Draw horizontal lines across both the upper and lower pages. Cut the upper page to the spine along those lines to make four flaps.

Step 5

Continue the horizontal lines on the lower page under the flaps

Step 6

Label the flaps as shown

Step 7

Give examples of bad questions, good questions, bad response boxes and good response boxes

Step 8

Under each flap justify why each question or response is good or bad.


My class really enjoyed this activity – one of them even wrote it in their feedback. The following are examples from my class. You might even spot some RAG123 on their pages. Follow @ListerKev or search #rag123 on Twitter to find out more.



132. Good question, Bad question 1

I like a topic that you can have fun with and also relates to the big bad world outside the classroom. We are constantly asked our opinions on websites, customer feedback surveys … even personality ‘tests’ in magazines. Every day there seems to be a new set of survey results hitting the news. How can you link a lesson with life?

Instead of telling pupils about biased questionning and surveys, why not give them a week or so to make a note of how often they are asked questions? They can evidence it by taking photographs, screengrabs, cutting surveys out or writing them down.

Mix up the pupils into groups and get them to focus on what the question is asking and how they are expected to answer.

Be prepared for some off topic discussion if they have surveys like ‘Which member of boyband X are you most likely to marry?’ or ‘Have you got what it takes to be the next (insert sportsperson or team manager here)?’

Discuss which questions are fair (unbiased) and which are leading you to a certain opinion. If there are multiple choice answers, do they cover all possible ideas? Think about who would have access to this survey (sampling/sample size).

Imagine you work for a website, magazine or shop.
1. Design a fair survey researching opinions on a relevant topic.
2. Design a very biased survey on the same topic.
3. Carry out the surveys on the same people.
4. Compare results.
5. What impact did the bias/unbiased style have?

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

65. Survey Monkey


If you need to collect a lot of data or want to encourage pupils to consider how data collection can be carried out then Survey Monkey is the website for you.

A basic membership is free: it allows you to create and carry out a 10 question survey online.

A paid for membership allows you to customise your survey and download the results. The survey can be longer than 10 questions.

I’ve introduced SurveyMonkey to the staff where I teach. We have used it to survey pupils on their opinions of feedback/marking in books, pupil experience of IT, staff implementation of IT, feedback from CPD sessions, data collection for Masters research and even collecting food orders for parents evening!

In class, you could also use it to start a discussion on bias, types of question, how appropriate different charts are and why companies use sites like SurveyMonkey to collect consumer data.