The purpose of this unit of lessons is to conduct a statistical investigation into the relative popularity of four different text and print features, and to use data squares as the data gathering ‘tool’.
A piece of written text has a range of features that combine to form its particular structure. These features can have different forms and the multiple possible combinations of these can result in quite different ‘nuances’ of the same text. As students develop their writing skills and as their audience awareness grows, they will develop too a curiosity about how and why texts appeal to different audiences.
When planning an investigation from an ‘I wonder’ statement, students need to consider what question they should ask, how they will gather data, and how the data will be organised when it is collected.
To investigate the preference for possible combinations of text and print features requires the gathering of multivariate data. Data squares are one tool that can be successfully ‘employed’ to gather this data. Data squares can hold several pieces of information about individual preferences, however, it is important that students understand the difference between individual data and group data.
At level 3, as students learn to investigate data sets with many variables, they begin to learn how to sort and resort it, to display it and to see relationships between the variables.
Sorting and organising a set of data squares means that the group preferences, feature by feature, can be found out. The questions about the preferred combinations of features can also be answered, as the data squares allow students to consider combinations of more than one variable at the same time.
Their conclusions should directly relate to their original question and to the data they have gathered. In answering questions and presenting the findings of their investigation, students need to make statements about the group and accurately describe aspects of a data set. The students are learning to identify patterns and trends in context, both within and between data sets.
In doing so they should be encouraged to develop a wider statistical vocabulary, including reference to multivariate data, datasets, variables, frequencies and proportions. They should also be given the opportunity to reflect upon and critique their investigation process and recognise its limitations.
In carrying out an investigation, involving multivariate data, students will need to draw upon well-developed number strategies, to think multiplicatively and to reason in a proportional way.
Associated Achievement Objectives
Listening, Reading and Viewing
Purposes and audiences
Show a developing understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences.
Show a developing understanding of text structures.
Speaking, writing and presenting
Purposes and audiences
Organise text, using a range of appropriate structures.
Pencils and erasers
Data squares (Attachment 1)
Whilst this unit is presented as sequence of five sessions, more sessions than this may be required or desirable to consolidate key learning. It is also expected that any session may extend beyond one teaching period.
It is intended that this mathematics investigation be complemented by literacy/English lessons that focus on developing knowledge and understanding of particular text features found in non-fiction texts.
The investigation could alternatively focus on a different genre and its particular features.
This session is about planning an investigation into optimal text (and print) features.
Using the same text, focus students on the written text only.
Together, make a class list of the text (and print) features that they notice vary between different texts.
For example: title length, text breaks, (the presence of) sub-headings within the text, sentence length, line spacing, the use of bold lettering, the use of bullet points, font, (the amount of) direct speech etc.
Work through several of these, one at a time, and have students identify which they personally prefer. Have them explain why to a partner. Have them recognise that audiences can have different responses to text structure and print, and different preferences.
Conclude the session by having student pairs complete steps 1 and 2 only in the process outlined above in Activity 4, Step 3.
This session is about preparing the resources to carry out the investigation and predicting an outcome.
This session is about explaining the investigation to participants and gathering data.
Have student pairs prepare for their data collection by cutting their copies of Attachment 1 into individual data squares, and practice how they will present their investigation to their participant group.
They should consider how the sample group (audience) will know about and understand the purpose of the investigation, how the pair will display the variables in the investigation (the four sets of text), exactly how they will explain the process of completing the data squares (including that each person will complete just one square), and where participants should put their data square when completed (eg. in the white plastic container). They should also give opportunities for questions from their audience.
Allow time in this session for data to be collected.
As student pairs complete their data collections, have them layout and manipulate their data squares, beginning to look for patterns and relationships, and identifying any initial findings.
This session is about sorting information into categories, organising data, identifying patterns and relationships and displaying data in a statistical form.
Have students begin to sort their data by examining one variable (univariate) at a time and recording the results with tally marks.
For example: The title preference variable (ABC) is sorted.
Have students present these data as simple bar or pie graphs.
Have them make statements about preferences.
For example: 1/3 (33.3%) of the audience preferred a one-word title, 5/12 (41.7%) preferred a clever title, and 1/4 (25%) preferred a long descriptive title.
Where possible use computer software to create graphs and seek patterns.
When students have considered each variable and recorded the results, have them look for patterns and relationships between two variables.
1/3 (33.3%) of the audience preferred the clever title and paragraphs. (B,2)
None of the audience liked the clever title and no text breaks. (B,1)
Have students identify patterns and relationships between three or more variables, recording statements, supported by evidence.
Ask students to confirm whether the predictions they made in Activity 3 were correct.
Have students refer to and answer their investigation question. Explain that their answer is likely to have several parts to it because they are ‘synthesising’ their answer from multivariate data.
Have students consider whether or not the answer to their question applies to their sample only (Yes) or whether the information is representative of a wider group and can inform a general statement. (No).
This session is about having students consider the effectiveness of their investigation, identify further questions that their investigation raises for them, and present their findings.
Begin by explaining that this session has three parts. The student pairs should:
Allow students time to complete steps 1 and 2, before presenting their findings to the class. This may be an oral presentation supported by a power point presentation, a poster or a combination of these.
Have classmates give specific feedback on findings and presentations.
If appropriate, have student pairs present their findings to audience participants if they are other than their own class.
As a class, conclude the session by listing key learning about text and print features, and about conducting an investigation into multivariate datasets.