Maree Bernoth sharing her practice.

Maree Bernoth, Senior Lecturer, Honours Course Co-Ordinator, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Indigenous Health.

My goal is to de-stigmatise statistics and research by empowering the students to master the language and understand the concepts.

My role is to engage and enable them, make the subject fun and relevant and open minds to the possibilities of what can be achieved through research.

What does it look like?
Collecting data and generally statistics as a whole is an integral part of research work. The goal of this activity is not only to introduce students to statistics; it also aims to empower students to master the language and understand the key concepts.

This activity has been designed to visually and kinaesthetically engage and enable students with statistical concepts, while making it fun, relevant and applicable. Opening their minds to the possibilities of what can be achieved through research.

The activity can be undertaken in on campus tutorials, in interactive online environments and by individual students who study online. It is designed for undergraduate students who have a learning outcome related to being consumers of research and who need to be convinced that statistics is not a “dirty word”.

Disposable plastic gloves (for food-handling) for each student and facilitator
Disposable plastic table clothes (for each table/group)
2 x Family size Smarties packs, 340g


  1. Collect “Descriptive Statistics”
    • Arrange room in either cluster square tables or cluster round tables;
    • Cover each table with the table clothes;
    • Break your class into small groups around each table;
    • Provide everyone with disposable gloves;
    • Facilitator provides each group with a hand-full of smarties (using gloved hand); smarties are placed in the centre of each table;
    • Each member of a group will have specific role to play:
      • One member will write up the groups data;
      • The other members will physically count data;
      • As a group, complete the next few steps to collect the descriptive statistics.
    • First, each group must write a hypothesis including a “Null” and “Alternate”, positive and negative hypothesis. At the conclusion, the students need to provide descriptive statistics related to the hypothesis.
    • Each group counts how many there are of each colour of Smartie on their table; the writer in the group, captures the totals. The smarties from now on will be called “data”.
    • With the totals captured, each group should now be able to:
      • Draw a bar graph representing the totals of each colour;
      • Draw a pie graph to represent the percentage of each colour;
      • Measure the central tendency (mean, median and mode) of the data collected.
  2. Look at “Inferential Statistics” of the data collected; what do this all mean?
    • First, in each group, students will look at how data can be manipulated and discuss the relevance of the p value and why it is significant;
    • Students should now also be able to:
      • Draw a line graph to show lowest number to highest number;
      • Analyse the data for platykurtic or leptokurtic distribution.
    • Each group can now compare their results with the class and refer back to their hypothesis; has it confirmed the hypothesis?

The class can now come together, engage in subject mortality and discuss their findings further.

This was originally presented at CSUEd 2011.