Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Qualitative and Quantitative Data
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into three sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Additional activities


Media Components

Computer Resources:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • RealPlayer plug-in. Download for free at
Specific Software Needed:
  • PowerPoint (optional)


Students need the following supplies:

  • Print outs of the STUDENT ORGANIZER handouts.

    Bookmarked sites:

    Qualitative vs. quantitative Web sites Technology Web sites
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    Introductory Activity:

  • Ask students to think about the different ways their academic performance has been evaluated over the years. List their responses on the board. (If all students have only been evaluated the same way, share some of the different types of assessment with them: letter grades, conferences, GPAs, portfolios, rubrics, narratives, self-evaluations, etc.)

  • Ask students to talk about which method(s) they preferred any why. Before beginning this discussion, have students define what they think a good assessment system would do, e.g, give them feedback on their performance relative to others in the class, give them constructive criticism, etc. After creating this list, ask them which
    type(s) of assessment would best meet these criteria, and why. Record their responses on the board.

  • Next, ask students to name a strength and weakness of each type of assessment they listed.

  • Write the words “qualitative” and “quantitative” data on the board. Ask students what they know about these types of data. If they don’t know what these words mean, ask them to look at the roots of the words for clues: (qual, quant). Explain what the words mean to the students, then ask them to categorize the types of assessment they listed earlier as “qualitative” or “quantitative” data.

    Learning Activities:

    Activity One

    Part one

  • Conduct a poll in which half the class gathers qualitative data, and the other half gathers quantitative data. (Later, these groups will switch roles.)

  • Write the topic of the poll on the board:
    Although the Internet brings people together via chatrooms, e-mail, etc., it ultimately isolates people from one another because they talk less face-to-face and over the phone.

  • Break the class into two groups of equal size. Group one will begin as the qualitative group and group two will begin as the quantitative group.

  • Tell the students from the qualitative group to each pick one person from the quantitative group to interview. The qualitative student should ask the quantitative student to respond to the statement, and record their response. Then, the quantitative student should ask the qualitative student to respond to the question using a scale of one to five. Give each student the appropriate STUDENT ORGANIZER: ACTIVITY ONE- QUANTITATIVE or QUALITATIVE handout.

  • Once the students have gathered their data, ask both groups to compile and assess their findings using the information on their handouts.

    Note: Before asking students to compile and analyze their results, you may want to review the types of analyses described on the handouts with the students. If your students are rusty or unfamiliar with calculating percentages, they may need a review or guidance.

  • Have each group share their data and findings.

    Part two

  • Now, have the groups switch roles. The qualitative group becomes the quantitative and vice versa. Have students conduct the poll again, and tell them to try to stay true to the opinions they expressed in part one. Each student will need another copy of the appropriate STUDENT ORGANIZER: ACTIVITY ONE- QUANTITATIVE or QUALITATIVE handout.

  • After each group has shared their findings, ask the students to discuss the following questions as a class:
    • Which data, the qualitative or the quantitative, provided you with more information about people’s reactions to the poll topic? Why?

    • Which type of data was easier to analyze and consolidate? Why?

    • What types of information might be easier to collect using a qualitative approach? Why?

    • What types of information might be easier to collect using a quantitative approach? Why?

  • Have students generate a list of the strengths and limitations of each kind of data and record on a piece of chart paper. From this list generate a list of do's and don'ts for data collection.

  • Hand out the STUDENT ORGANIZER: ACTIVITY ONE-RESEARCH sheet and review sheet with students to make sure they understand the activity.

    Ask students to use the following Web sites to help them answer the questions on the handout:
  • Review handouts as a class.

    Activity Two

  • Tell students they will use what they’ve learned to design and conduct a poll of their own.

  • First, have the class brainstorm poll topics and then vote to determine which topic they will use. The topic should be something meaningful to the students—ideally they should use what they learn to inform a decision or policy change.

  • Then, break students into groups of 4-5. Each group will devise their own poll.

  • Groups should use STUDENT ORGANIZER: ACTIVITY TWO as a guide to help them design their polls, along with the list of do’s and don’ts they created in the previous activity.

  • Each group should also secure a group of people (ideally 10-20 people) willing to participate in the survey. This can be done via paper ballot, online (see sites listed below), or in person.

    Free Survey/Poll Building Sites
    These sites allow you to create online surveys or polls. In most cases, the results will be e-mailed to your account. Since some of these sites require registration, you should input the student-created survey questions, and have results sent to your account. An alternative would be to give a student monitor (as opposed to the entire class) your password, and have them build and monitor the surveys.

  • Each group should do a trial run of their survey on another group in your class, and then make any necessary adjustments to their polls or data collecting method before conducting their official poll.

  • Once each group has conducted their poll, have them analyze their results and share them with the class. In their presentation, they should briefly discuss how they collected and analyzed their data, what they thought they did well in their poll, how they could have improved it, and what kinds of new questions their study raised.

  • As a class, have students add to the list of the strengths and limitations of each kind of data they created in Activity One.

  • If students feel their polls were accurate, ask them to share their results with the school newspaper or post them on the school Web site. Also, don’t forget to share the results with the people you polled!

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

    Option One: Presentation

    Invite other classes to visit your classroom to learn about qualitative and quantitative data. Your class can either create a formal presentation, or set up booths. Either way, the presentation or booths should cover the following topics.
    • definitions and examples of qualitative and quantitative data;
    • a discussion (with examples) of the strengths and limitations of these two types of data;
    • examples of how to analyze these two types of data;
    • an activity for the audience to engage in.
    Note: If you choose to create a Web page or PowerPoint presentation as part of this option, the following sites provide useful information and resources:
    Option Two: Debate

  • Have students conduct a debate in which one side represents qualitative data and the other, quantitative. Note, there should be a panel of three student judges who preside over the debate.

  • To prepare for the debate, each side must create a list of ten statements that they feel establish their data collection method as more accurate, practical, useful, etc. than the other.

  • To conduct the debate, one side offers their statement and the other counters with opinions supported by examples from their polling experience. The other side then has a chance to respond.

  • For each statement, the judges determine which side made a better case based on the clarity of their argument and the support cited for their opinions.


    Cross-Curricular Extension: Social Science
    Contact a social science professor from a local university or college and invite him or her to your classroom to discuss their opinions of qualitative versus quantitative data.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students