Project Description

Senior School Census was inspired by the CensusAtSchool project (http://www.censusatschool.ntu.ac.uk/) that was initiated byProfessor Neville Davies of the University of Nottingham Trent in the UK.

The initial phase of this project specifically addresses the needs of teachers and students in South Australia arising from the introduction of new senior school mathematics courses by the Senior Secondary Board of South Australia (SSABSA) in 2003. It aims to provide:

The project consists of five major phases:

Teacher professional development

Teachers will be offered a total of 18 hours face-to-face professional development. During these sessions teachers will learn about the content, pedagogical approaches appropriate for use in the Statistics section of the new courses and how the census can be used in their classes to provide rich learning experiences for their students. These sessions are being offered to teachers free of charge, thanks to the generous support of Casio Australia.

Survey design - Student and teacher consultation

This was a most important phase of the project. A representative group of about 20 Year 11 students (of 2002) were invited to meet as a group. Firstly, they had the project explained to them and then were asked what sort of things they would like to find out or would be useful to know about their colleagues as a group. This was be a significant learning experience in itself as the students had to consider the Privacy Act, what was appropriate to ask, and so on.

A pilot survey was then conducted with the assistance of 20 teachers from various country and metropolitan schools, each of whom nominated 10 students to submit responses.

The outcome of this process was a series of questions that appear on the survey. Some further questions have been included so we can contribute to the international CensusAtSchool database; and also to ensure that the type of data that results from the survey is most useful in the teaching and learning of Statistics in the new courses.

Conducting the Census

All high school students in South Australian secondary schools (2003) will be invited to complete the census form (survey). The census will take place after the teacher professional development sessions. A teacher in each school will inform the Baker Centre of how many students in their school will complete the survey. The school will be allocated PIN numbers to provide to individual students. Students will then access the SeniorSchoolCensus-online website, enter their individual PINs and complete the survey online. Students will have a period of three weeks to access the website and complete the survey. The survey will be conducted by goVote (see below) and at the end of the data collection period, all data will be transferred securely to the Baker Centre so the next phase of the project can begin.

Student privacy and anonymity

In conducting this census on line, it is essential that student privacy is protected, and all data is anonymous. For this reason we are very pleased to have the support of goVote, who specialise in conducting Web based voting, ballots and surveys, with state of the art encryption and other security and privacy features, some of which are listed below:

Use of the census output in the classrooms of South Australia

The data collected will be considered (for learning purposes) to be that from a population. In the first instance, teachers and students will not have access to all the data from the population nor the population parameters that result. They will, however, have access to as many simple random samples SRSıs) of whatever size (up to 255) that they desire. It is this that underpins the unique learning opportunities that flow from this project. Students will use the SRSıs as tools in their learning. They will be able to investigate the effects of sample size on confidence interval width, perform hypothesis tests and calculate confidence intervals just as real statisticians do. The one difference is that in most real situations the population data are not available. In this project we withhold information about the population data until a predetermined date (Aug/Sept 2003) when the population parameters will be released for all to see. Students can then review the analysis they have performed in the light of this new knowledge. This will be a truly revolutionary learning experience, as not even the teachers will have access to the 'right' answers during the analysis stage.