1330.0 - Education News, October 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/10/2009   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All

Education News - October, 2009

This newsletter highlights the latest curriculum related teaching resources, student activities and statistical tools that have been developed by ABS Education Services as well as other ABS resources that are useful for schools.


  1. CensusAtSchool News
  2. New Education Services Web Pages
  3. An Idea for the Classroom - Student Income
  4. New Interactive Age-Sex Pyramids
  5. Online Video Tutorials
  6. Final StatSmart Conference
  7. Recently Released Publications
  8. Contact details

1. CensusAtSchool News

CensusAtSchool LogoNOW is the time to set up a CensusAtSchool Teacher Account! Register ONLINE!

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is pleased to announce the CensusAtSchool Questionnaire will run annually from 2010.

Students will once again have the opportunity to be part of the Australian CensusAtSchool database. The live 2010 questionnaire will open on 27 January next year, then close before the new data is added to the Random Sampler in July 2010.

CensusAtSchool has previously found that 73% of Australian students had broadband internet at home in 2008, compared with 53% in 2006, their favourite take-away food was Pizza/Pasta and 45% of students travelled to school by car. What will the data show in 2010?

New online registration form
For the first time, participation in CensusAtSchool has been streamlined to make it easier for teachers to get their students involved. A new online registration form is now available, enabling teachers to directly create an account. This means teachers do not need a School Participation Number (SPN) to get involved. Simply set up a CensusAtSchool Teacher Account from the CensusAtSchool web pages. It's quick and simple!

The new online form involves searching for your school using a postcode or keyword search, creating a username and password. Once a teacher sets up an account, it will remain active year after year. The account will contain Student Access Numbers (SAN) that students require to submit a questionnaire in 2010. Remember, the more schools that participate, the richer the data resource for teachers and students to use in the classroom.

The 2010 Questionnaire
The 2010 online questionnaire will retain most of the questions from previous projects, but it will be shorter than both the 2006 & 2008 questionnaires. Students respond to a set of non-intrusive questions about their lifestyle, income sources, opinions, technology use, physical characteristics, eating habits, reaction times (and much, much more). Once the questionnaire closes, the data is pooled into a nation-wide database and returned via the Random Sampler facility, enabling students to generate random samples of real data.

Please note all data collected from CensusAtSchool questionnaires is available FREE online for students and teachers to use any time. A password is not required to access CensusAtSchool data.

What students are saying...
The response from the education sector so far has been very positive. Students are engaged by real data about themselves and their peers. In fact, students love it! View some of the feedback from the CensusAtSchool Community pages and see for yourself.

Here's what some Year 9 students from Mathew Flinders Girls Secondary College said about using CensusAtSchool data in their 'Who AM I?" unit:

"It was more than reading out of a textbook….you actually had to find the information, search for it."

"It was really interesting to see how different all the heights were compared to us."

How to get involved: Please visit How To Get Involved for more details about how you can get on board in 2010! Please contact the CensusAtSchool Team if you have a query or if you would like to provide some feedback. We'd love to hear from you.

2. New Education Services Web pages

You may have noticed that the Education Services web pages have been updated and improved. We have reorganised the content so that it will be easier for you to find the specific information that you want. The For Teachers pages now include categories 'Resources for the Classroom' and 'Assistance for Teachers' as well as direct links to Indigenous Statistics for Schools, CensusAtSchool, games and the Education News newsletter.

Resources for the Classroom
Screen shot of Resources for teachers pageThe Resources for the Classroom section has ABS resources organised by subject, links to Indigenous data, Datasets for classroom use, Census data and more. This should make it quicker for you to find just the resource you want for a particular use.

Assistance For Teachers page:

The Assistance for Teachers pages link all the resources that you need to assist you both use ABS data and understand statistical concepts. We discovered from your feedback that these were some of the pages you found most useful, but they were previously quite hidden. Now all the help you need is accessible from one set of pages.
screen shot of Assistance for Teachers page

As well, there is a link from the teachers pages directly to the Games pages. The games were designed by The Le@rning Federation to reinforce difficult statistical concepts in engaging and pedagogically sound ways. For example by using the computer generator, thousands of trials can be conducted in a few seconds helping students grasp concepts about probability and random samples.

For Students Pages

The new For Students pages have also been redesigned to make it easier for students to find what they are looking for. Learning Resources has links by subject as well as links to Indigenous Data, Census data and specially designed Datasets. The students' Help with Statistics pages are similar to those for teachers and aim to make it easier for students to find out about statistics as well as ABS resources.

Screen shot of For Students entry page

The student pages also include direct links to the ABS population pyramids and (coming soon) a direct link to the Population Clock (a perennial favourite).

Please have a look at our new pages and let us know what you think. There is a link to the on-line Feedback form from the For Teachers page or you can contact us using the details below.

3. An Idea for the Maths Classroom - Student Income

picture of cashWhat proportion of students in each year level received money in the week before the CensusAtSchool data was taken? How does your class compare? Is this the same for boys and girls? How did students get their money: an allowance? work? gift? paid employment?

graph of Year 11 frequency of income by sourceThese are the sorts of questions that can be answered using CensusAtSchool data. CensusAtSchool activities also mean students must address statistical concepts such as population and sample, as well as sample size. It requires students to make decisions about 'dirty data': what constitutes an outlier? when can an outlier be ignored? what should we do with missing data?

It also helps students develop their facility with graphical representation. When is it appropriate to use which type of graph? Students must also grapple with concepts of mean, median and mode. Which is most useful in which context? When is it not appropriate to calculate a mean? This activity will also help students recognise the importance of variability in statistics and that measures of central tendency by themselves are not sufficient to describe data.

What to do:

  1. Divide the class into 12 groups. The groups will each select different samples: one each for each year level with girls and boys separately.

    Have each student:
  2. Draw an appropriate sample of 100 students from the random sampler. (Some groups will have to use smaller sample sizes due to the smaller number of submitted questionnaires for that group.)
  3. Organise the data (delete unwanted columns, sort, etc). (The online tutorials can show you how.)
  4. Graph the frequency of each category (no income, allowance, paid work, etc).
  5. Calculate the average income received for each category.
  6. Graph the average income by category. (Is average the appropriate measure? By looking at the variability of the data, you can discuss whether the median may be a better measure than the mean. Students can see the effect of outliers.)
  7. Have students share their results so that they can compare girls and boys, and different year levels.
Graph of average income Year 11 by source and sex

Are there any differences between the groups? How does your class compare to the CensusAtSchool population? What may explain any differences?

You could also have your students compare the number of hours worked with the number of hours spent on homework? Is there a relationship?

Do you have a classroom idea that uses ABS data or ABS Education products? Let us know at education@abs.gov.au and we can share it with schools around Australia.

4. New Interactive Age-sex Population Pyramids

More interactive population pyramids are now available from the Datasets pages. These new datasets allow students to create age-sex population pyramids for both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations for their home state or territory. They are an engaging way for students to use real ABS data to quickly examine demographic differences and similarities.

screen shots of data and age-sex pyramids

You can find them in the under the Datasets section.

5. Online Video Tutorials

The ABS website includes a growing number of online video tutorials to help you make the best use of our resources. These resources include help to navigate and search the website, assistance using Census data such as the Basic Community Profile and CDATA online, how to find CPI data and help finding Indigenous data. There is also a tutorial on understanding ABS geographic groupings.

Screenshot of part of online video

National Regional Profiles, which bring together data from the Census as well as other collections, for small areas (such as local government areas) have also developed an online video tutorial.

6. Final Statsmart Conference

After three years of fun, hard work and great collaboration the StatSmart project is drawing to a close. (Some excerpts from participants' posters are included throughout this report.)

part of StatSmart poster from participating school

The final conference was held in the Melbourne ABS offices on 20 and 21 July, 2009 and final data is being collected over the next few months. StatSmart was an ARC Linkages funded longitudinal research study involving University of Tasmania, The Noel Baker Centre for School Mathematics, Key Curriculum Press, the ABS and more than 40 teachers from 3 states (and importantly their students). Students from Grade 5 to Year 9 were involved in the project.

Sacred Heart College StatSmart PosterTeachers used data such as CensusAtSchool and the Tinkerplots software to assist their students engage with statistical concepts. The researchers collected data from both students and teachers over the three years and preliminary results show that there was a significant improvement in the level of statistical understanding for both students and teachers. This improvement was shown across all year levels.
One particularly powerful aspect of this research is that many of the same students have been followed over the three years allowing the researchers to examine the impact of the StatSmart project longitudinally. The principal researchers, Dr Rosemary Callaghan and Dr Jane Watson from the University of Tasmania, will be analysing the data over the next few months. 'To have longitudinal data of this size and quality is very unusual in this area. We are very excited to see what the full data will tell us'.

part of StatSmart poster from participating school

As can be seen from the excerpts of posters, the range of activities was very broad and the range of students was very broad. The enjoyment (by both teachers and students) and the positive outcomes however, were very similar. All of the teachers mentioned the excellent and engaging professional development that was conducted each year at the ABS offices in Melbourne by Anthony Harradine (from the Noel Baker Centre for School Mathematics), Cliff Konold (from Key Curriculum Press), Jane Watson and Rosemary Callagham. For two days each year the teachers were challenged and extended by hands on activities that stretched their understanding of statistical concepts and gave them the tools to address the misconceptions that many of their students will bring to the classroom. We will keep you informed of the study's results as they are published.

7. Recently Released Publications

Remember, all ABS publications are free to download from the ABS website.

Marriages and Divorces, Australia 2008 ( cat. no. 3310.0)

Marriage and divorce statistics provide valuable information for the analysis of family formation and structure in Australia. This electronic product presents data at the national and state level.
Marriages data is presented by age, previous martial status, country of birth and relative country of birth of both males and females, type of celebrant and whether couples live together prior to marriage. Crude and age-specific marriage rates are also provided.
Divorces data is presented by age, duration of marriage at final separation and at date made absolute, country of birth and number of children.

Recorded Crime - Offenders, Selected States and Territories, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4519.0)
This publication provides a profile of alleged offenders, including their age, sex, Indigenous status, principal offence, how often they have been proceeded against by police within the 12 month reference period, as well as a count of proceedings that may result in court actions. Data are available for selected states and territories.

Labour Force Experience, Australia, February 2009 (cat. no. 6206.0)

Labour force experience can be described in terms of labour force activities undertaken by persons in a 12-month period, namely working and looking for work. Details include the number of weeks spent working, looking for work, or out of the labour force during the year. Estimates can be cross-classified by labour force demographics such as state, sex, age and marital status and birthplace.

Industrial Disputes Australia, June 2009 (cat. no. 6321.0.55.001)

This publication gives the number of disputes, employees involved, working days lost and working days lost per 1,000 employees in industrial disputes involving stoppages of work of 10 working days or more, classified by state, industry, cause of dispute, working days lost per employee involved and reason work resumed.

Cultural Funding by Government, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 4183.0)

Contains estimates of funding for arts and cultural activities by the three levels of government in Australia.

Demography News, Aug 2009 (cat. no. 3106.0)

Demographic statistics provide measures of the Australian population, its size, growth, composition and geographic distribution, as well as the components that shape population change: births, deaths and migration.
This newsletter provides information about the latest demographic research and analysis being undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Use of Internet on Farms, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8150.0)

This data, sourced from the annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey, provides regional statistics on farm use of the internet.

You can view the full range of previously released publications and upcoming releases from the ABS home page under Product Releases.

8. Contact details
        How to contact ABS Education Services

        Free Call: 1800 623 273
        email: education@abs.gov.au

        Mail: GPO Box 2796
        Melbourne, 3001


        Education News is a totally free resource that aims to assist teachers use ABS data in their classroom. When you subscribe you will be notified of each new edition as it is published.