Honours shared in ratings war

This article is an excellent starting point for the discussion on the use of data in the media. The questions asked could form part of an integrated unit on Newspapers or Media or as part of a stand alone mathematics unit. The questions have been written with Middle School students in mind.

Completion of the questions will assist students to:

Judge the quality and appropriateness of data collection;
Understand and use common methods of summarising and displaying data;
Make and question judgements based upon data presented.
(Numerate Students - Numerate Adults DECCD 1995 pp. 16-17)

This article is sure to be a source of motivation for further student research into similar reports. Students could also be encouraged to collect data in the local area to find similar statistics. Keep an eye out for similar stories in your local newspaper (along with associated advertising) when surveys are released. For further background information visit the A.C.Nielsen website (http://www.Acnielsen.com.au/).

(Written by Peter Mobey, BTeach student, University of Tasmania, 2001)


Students should be assisted to generate, read, use and appreciate different representation of number or quantities in everyday contexts (Bobis, J; Mulligan, J; Lowrie, T; Taplin, M 1999).

Fractional quantities and proportional readings must be seen as interrelated with other mathematical concepts. The connections students make to mathematical concepts need to be connected to real life applications. The mathematical concepts and connections need to be made relevant to students' uses and developing understandings.

Students need a curriculum that will develop conceptual understandings and place emphasis of fractions and how this relates to the notion of ratio, proportion and percentages. Some of the ways are listed below

Students need a diverse background in understanding that fractions, decimals and percentages can represent measurements to appropriate degrees of accuracy. That percentage is useful for comparing fractional quantities, that fractions and decimals can be represented as percentage. That percentage means 'out of a hundred'. That the same number can be represented in different ways. That parts of a whole have different names and values. That numbers can be used to indicate order, e.g. ordering, labeling. That we can explain things numerically.

By analysing 'Honours shared in ratings war' students will be able to apply their developing knowledge of fractions and percentages. Students will see the real life application of percentages and students will begin to analyse critically what these figure are telling the reader. Students will gain practical knowledge by using one set of figures and model their own survey from the one represented in the newspaper. Students will be able to verify if the newspaper figures are similar or different from their own collected data.

By analysing 'A.C. Nielsen Research' article students will be able to look at the different ways information can be represented. They will examine and explore different ways of recording data.

(Written by Wendy Bowen, BTeach student, University of Tasmania, 2001)

Where to next?

Newspaper article
Student Questions for this article
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Index - Data Collection and Sampling
Main Index - Numeracy in the News