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Big data in Small Classrooms – Jon Fahlander & Rhys Jones

Letting Students Conduct Real World Survey Based Research

Jon Fahlander, (Takapuna Grammar School) and Rhys Jones (University of Auckland) have put together the World Value Survey “light” data set. It contains country averages of over 200 variables from 2010-2014 (covering topics like happiness, religiosity, racism – ok with a neighbour of a different race, patriotism – willingness to fight for one’s country, etc, as well as GDP per capita). While there are other country level versions of the data around for research purposes, this version is in an easily accessible format, without any missing values etc, which they hope will make it more suitable for the secondary classroom. 

Their workshop explored ways to let students engage in real world survey based research. The teachers  undertook a mini research project based on their own research question. The session ended with a discussion of the potential benefits and pitfalls of letting students access rich data sets like the World Value Survey. 

Jon and Rhys shared a “cleaned” version of the individual level data for each country, which might work for comparative box plots of, say, the distribution of happiness in NZ and Australia. An issue with that, however, is that the scales aren’t continuous, but at best an ordinal scale from 1 to 10, so it might not suit the multivariate standards.

The data and supporting material – the survey questionnaire, the Stata syntax used for data management,  can be found on the website

Link to Stats day presentation:  slides

Please leave a comment below if you use this dataset and let us know what worked and what questions students posed.  Jon would be really keen to hear how it went and to publish student work on their website, so please get in touch with him or Rhys via the website.

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