Large Data Sets – Activities

A year ago, I wrote this blog post, introducing Large Data Sets, a new feature to be taught on the “reformed” new AS and A level specification. Back then, it was a lot of guess work as to how best to use this new element on the syllabus, and how they will be examined in the exams.

One year on, and I must confess, I’m not much the wiser, but time waits for no man and, with much of the “pure” content having been taught the elephant in the room that are large data sets can no longer be ignored.

Helpfully, OCR have published some teaching activities for use with large data sets. They can be found by following this link. I have also uploaded the Word documents and Large Data Set and you can download the directly on the links at the bottom of this post.

They are described as “Starter Activities”, designed to familiarise your students with the large data sets and should take circa 10 minutes per activity. Not sure I agree with this. The activities/discussion points are good – for example, in Activity 5 you might get half your class to be “Team Bristol Mayor” and argue the case for how they have successfully got commuters out of the car and travelling to work by foot or bike, and ask the other half be “Team Paxman” taking down the Mayor’s argument and highlighting car use has increased over the last decade. The statistics can be used to support both arguments and I do think that it is right that we are teaching our students how data can be – and is – used in the real world.

But be warned: these are not trivial activities that you can print out 5 minutes before your lesson – you will want to spend some time looking at the activities yourself before presenting them to the students, even if it is only to understand what the various graphs show as, for example, OCR have not labelled the axis in many cases.

They are also liberal with the use of abbreviations – perhaps this deliberate, forcing the student to consult the Large Data Set to remind themselves with what they mean, but to help you, below are a few of the more common abbreviations, and what they mean:

UMLT: Underground, Metro, Light Rail, Tram

BMC: Bus, Minibus, Coach

MSM: Motorcycle, Scooter or Moped

LDS: Large Data Set

LA: Local Authority

Download the documents:

Starter Activities 1 to 5

Starter Activities 6 to 9

Investigating Bicycle Use (Sampling Activity)

Investigating UMLT Use (Calculating from the LDS)

Large Data Set

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One Comment

  1. Posted 07/01/2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the Blog on the Large Data Set. Just to let you know there are three short(5mins ish) videos on Youtube, just search ‘Large Data Set OCR’ or look on Twitter under #LDSOCR. My local school used them last term and they found them useful for familiarisation of the LDS & to learn some Excel(whilst not a requirement of the exam specification useful for students to do their own investigation) & some statistics topics eg cumulative frequency graphs, standard deviation & Box Plots(out tomorrow). Enjoy! (I am getting my students up to speed with the basics before attempting some of the OCR activities.)

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