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Lesson 9: Survey Says…

Lesson 9: Survey Says…


Students will learn that a survey is another data collection method. They will learn what a survey is, what types of questions are used in a survey, and how a survey is conducted.


  1. Video: Family Feud’s “Shocking Fast Money” found at: (good quality, but sad ending)


    Video: Family Feud video clip titled “Family Feud – Comeback of the Century” found at: (bad quality, but happy ending)

  2. Designing a Survey handout (LMR_3.4_Designing a Survey)


survey self-reported open-ended questions closed-ended questions

Essential Concepts:

Essential Concepts:

Surveys ask simple, straightforward questions in order to collect data that can be used to answer statistical investigative questions. Writing such questions can be hard (but fun)!


  1. Introduce one of the videos listed above by informing students that they will be watching a clip from the television game show Family Feud. This segment of the show is called Fast Money, where the winning family plays for an additional $20,000 (in the older video, they are playing for an additional $10,000 instead of $20,000). Two family members are chosen to play and must reach a combined score of 200 points to win the money. The goal is to guess the most common responses to five questions. For example, if the question “What animal is a common pet?” were asked, each family member might answer with “dog” or “cat” since these are popular household pets. The first person accumulates as many points as possible during the 20-second first round. The second person is given 25 seconds to earn points with different answers.

  2. As students watch the video, have them answer the following questions in their DS journals:

    1. How many people were surveyed? 100

    2. Who was represented in the survey? Single men

    3. How many survey questions were asked? 5

    4. When the host says “survey said” and we see the response, what does it mean? It means that X number of people out of the 100 gave that response to the survey question.

  3. Family Feud uses surveys as its main data collection tool. In their DS journals, students should write down what they know about surveys individually.

  4. Then, with a partner, students will share what each one of them knows about surveys.

  5. Select a couple of students to either share their response or their partner’s response with the whole class.

  6. Inform students that a survey is a data collection method where the data are self-reported, meaning that participants answer questions themselves. Surveys are composed of:

    1. Questionnaires or a series of questions

    2. A representative sample of the population of interest

    3. Carefully worded questions

  7. Surveys rely on questions. There are two types of questions that can be asked in a survey: open-ended questions and closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions offer a free-response/ text approach, whereas closed-ended questions give a fixed set of choices.

  8. Display the following list to the class. With a partner, have the students categorize the following types of questions as either open-ended or closed-ended:

    1. Multiple choice (closed)

    2. Write a paragraph (open)

    3. Yes/No (closed)

    4. Comments (open)

    5. Essays (open)

    6. On a scale from 1 to 5 (closed)

    7. Choose from a list (closed)

    8. Write a sentence (open)

    9. Check a box (closed)

  9. Do a quick Whip Around to share the categorization for each type of question. Be sure that students make corrections to the list if any items were miscategorized.

  10. Quickly review the Data Cycle.

  11. To give students an introduction to conducting surveys, they will first go through a practice scenario as a class to try to answer the following research question:

    What are ‘families’ in the United States?

  12. Distribute the Designing a Survey handout (LMR_3.4) and let students fill in the boxes for “Research Topic” (Families) and “Research Question” (What are ‘families’ in the United States?).

  13. Inform students that the left side of the handout will be completed as a class, and then student teams will work together to complete the right side.

  14. Using the Data Cycle as a guide, students should brainstorm a statistical investigative question that is related to the research question. One might be: What is the typical family size in the United States?

    Note: This requires a definition of “family,” which can have a variety of meanings to different people. Different definitions will likely guide the discussion of possible survey questions in the following step.

  15. Next, students need to determine 3 survey questions to help answer the statistical investigative question. The goal in creating survey questions is to make sure they (1) are unambiguous, and (2) address the statistical investigative question. Some examples are listed below (which come from different definitions of “family”):

    Note: Survey questions MUST match the statistical investigative question.

    1. How many siblings do you have?

    2. How many people live with you?

  16. It may help to actually collect data once the first survey question has been created. For example: “How many siblings do you have?” – each student would give a response and the values could be recorded in a dotplot (if desired). If the question is too vague (do we include half-siblings, step-siblings, etc.?), students can revise the question.

  17. Once the class has agreed upon 3 survey questions for the first statistical investigative question, allow students to join their student teams for the remainder of the activity.

  18. Each team should come up with a statistical investigative question that might answer the research question, then determine 3 survey questions that match their statistical investigative question. Have the students create both open- and closed-ended questions in the handout. Each survey question should be a different type (see Step 8).

  19. Have student teams share out their statistical investigative questions and related survey questions with the rest of the class.

Class Scribes:

One team of students will give a brief talk to discuss what they think the 3 most important topics of the day were.

Homework & Next Day

For homework, students should choose one of their team’s survey questions and rewrite it 3 ways, using 3 different question types (see Step 8). Example rewrites for the survey question “How many siblings do you have?” are given below for reference.

(a.) Multiple choice:

    How many siblings do you have? Select one option.

        (a) 0 siblings

        (b) 1 sibling

        (c) 2 siblings

        (d) 3 siblings

        (e) more than 3 siblings

(b.) Write a paragraph:

    In your own words, describe your siblings.

(c.) Yes/No:

    Do you have any siblings?