The principles of sampling applied to science

In the Biology GCSE, students will need to consider sampling in the context health, disease and the development of medicines.  They will need to understand that the greater sample size, the more reliable the outcomes of a clinical trial, and should explore the impact of unusual outcomes on a small sample size.

Any form of sampling needs to reflect the characteristics of the population and provide data that will inform the question being investigated or it is not fit for purpose.

Although this can be challenging students often have a clear sense of fairness. Present students with scientific findings that have been generated using a range of sampling techniques and encourage them to evaluate each example. Try to include examples of poor sampling strategies and explore how sampling may have been used to generate data used in the media.



Links and Resources

Ecological Survey

This resource is aimed at A level, however some of the ideas and thinking are relevant to Triple Science and accessible to students. The pack describes a series of investigations to measure the distribution of plants and animals on a site and includes a range of sampling techniques and the measurement of abiotic factors such as soil conditions, temperature and light intensity.

Some of these could be carried out on school grounds or on a field trip of some kind.

publication year
2010 to date

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