Publication Details

Birrell, C. (2020). Teaching Sample Survey Design—A Project Using a Virtual Population. Journal of Statistics Education, Online First


© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. Sample survey design is a topic usually taught to students undertaking a minor or major in statistics in the latter part of their bachelor’s degree. This article describes an assessment project that fosters active learning and helps to develop a set of essential skills for statistical practice. The project is completed in pairs and submitted in two parts. This allows feedback from the first part to be acted upon for the second part. Ideally, students would gain experience sampling from an actual population. However, the time involved in obtaining approval from the university’s ethics committee may not be feasible for a short course. An alternative is to use an online virtual population such as the Islands, which provides students with an experience in setting up a sampling frame, requesting consent from potential participants, and collecting data. Proficiency in written communication and teamwork are highly valued by employers of statistics graduates. This project encourages collaborative learning in the design of the sample survey, statistical analysis of data collected, and the development of a final written report. It can easily be adapted for first year students and also be extended to suit Honors or Masters level students.



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