Reflection: Student Feedback Cemetery secrets (1 of 2) - Section 5: DATA LAB 1: Cemetery secrets


The goal of step 3 is for students to categorize data for analysis. What percentage of people in your cemetery survey survived to age 10? What percentage of people make it to 50? The basic idea of this data table is that it allows students to create the preliminary calculations necessary for survivorship curves. However, as constructed this table requires a level of math literacy that many students might not possess. The use of single letters as variables and mathematical operations using only variables, to cite the two most problematic examples, might be confusing to students. The most common feedback I received from this table was "I don't get it." Students understood what I wanted them to do after I explained how the table was designed, but were genuinely puzzled without additional explanation. That kind of feedback is proof of poor design in the creation of the table. 

I made two modifications on the spot to address this confusion: 1) I had students cross out the letters and write in words and 2) I modeled the use of the table by working through the first row (0-9 age interval) with the whole class as a mini-lesson. These changes helped my students understand how to use the table immediately and dramatically cut the frequencey of procedural questions ("Is this what I'm supposed to write here?"). As a result, students were better able to focus on conducting analyses on the data and not the data table.

  Student Feedback: Confusing data collection graphic organizer
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Cemetery secrets (1 of 2)

Unit 4: Populations
Lesson 6 of 16

Objective: Students will be able to 1) define demography and 2) collect lifespan data from an internet database.

Big Idea: Cemeteries are rich sources of human population data? How might we analyze cemetery data to better understand trends in human survivorship and mortality over time?

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Science, human population, survivorship
  55 minutes
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