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.