Introduction to sampling

Resource file(s):

Basic quantitative analysis – introduction to sampling

This bundle contains materials designed to introduce students to the basics of sampling strategies in the geographical and environmental sciences.

Original context

These activities were developed as part of a first year general skills module taught across multiple programmes including Geography and Environmental Science. The sampling activity was assessed via multiple choice questions using different datasets to check student understanding (students answered 1 question randomly drawn from a question pool set up in the virtual learning environment (VLE) as part of a wider quiz on different aspects of sampling and questionnaire design).

Materials included in the bundle:

  • Slide deck introducing why sampling is something that needs thinking about, and introducing a range of common sampling strategies
  • Slide deck introducing the activity
  • Student handout with instructions for a practical activity demonstrating the effects of sample size using mixed dried pulses (can be purchased from any grocery store – ensure you include red kidney beans in the sample or adjust the handout and slides before the activity).
  • Student handout with the same instructions, but using images rather than real beans
  • A sheet of images of beans which can be printed off and cut up to use for the practical
  • Pre-formatted Excel spreadsheet for students to enter data (sampling spreadsheet)
  • Example MCQ questions used to assess understanding

Preparing the materials:

As written the practical uses dried pulses or a set of images, but any kind of easily categorised and counted items could be used – mixed sweets such as dolly mixture, Smarties or Skittles, beads, blocks or something relevant to a wider project such as pebbles or shells of different types from a field site. We suggest that students work in small groups (2-4). If possible, we also suggest that you have at least two different underlying populations (e.g. mix up two bowls of dried pulses with different ratios, and make up enough bags for half the groups from each bowl) – this is a trigger for discussion and a useful starting point for moving on to inferential statistics asking questions about difference between samples.

Created by M Jane Bunting
on 2023-10-02