Episode 14: Getting a random sample from the international site

NOTE: These videos were prepared when the Census at School Project was managed by Statistics Canada. Most of the information is still relevant.

Duration: 6:11  min.

This episode will demonstrate how to obtain a random dataset using the International Census at School random data selector.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Angela McCanny and I’m a resource teacher with Statistics Canada. This episode will demonstrate how to obtain a random dataset using the international Census at School random data selector.

The data available in the Random data selector comes from the various countries who have participated in the Census at School survey since the year 2000. When you download records, you will be obtaining a random selection of raw data from actual students who have completed the Census at School survey. This allows students to compare their class results with students from around the world. In 2009, these countries include: the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, but this group will be growing as new countries become involved in the Census at School project.

Let’s begin by finding the International Random Data Selector on the Census at School website.

On the internet, open www.censusatschool.ca. In the left menu bar, choose Data and results.
At the top of the screen, choose International results and random data selector.
In the middle of the screen, outlined in a blue background, you will see a section labeled International results and random data selector. Just below that, click on the blue letters random data selector.
This next page gives notice that we are now leaving Statistics Canada’s website to go to the International Census at School website. Click on the link.
This page tells us that we may choose to select from all data available or we can choose responses from a particular region, age or gender, depending on which database we choose.
Now we are asked to provide some information: select your country from the drop down menu, then fill in your email address and your school or institution.
Now scroll down to the bottom of the page and answer the security question. In the blank box, type the words you see written in the box above. If they are not clear to you, click the “refresh” button beside the words and a new pair of words will appear. Type these words. Now click Submit.
On this page, you will see the countries from which we can choose data. There are a number of individual countries, including Canada, as well as an international database made up of responses from several countries combined. For our download, let’s choose data from Australia.
Choose which region of Australia, or choose All. Click Submit.
Choose your sample size. Depending on the type of activity you are doing with the data, you may want a small sample, similar in size to your class size, or a larger sample. Most of the countries allow a random sample of up to 200, and South Africa allows up to 500. We choose by groups of 10. I’ll select 100 for this sample. Click Submit.
On the next page, click Get Data. You may need to wait for a few seconds while the data is retrieved. Soon you will see a File Download dialogue box. You will be asked to Open or Save. Do not open the file: it is in “comma separated values” format (or .CSV format) and is not easily readable. Select Save instead.
In the Save In box, choose the location you wish to save it for importing later into other software, like a spreadsheet program or another type of data analysis program. I often save to the Desktop but you could use any folder. You don’t need to change anything in the File name box, unless you are planning to save a number of random data files, in which case I usually name each one with the country and the sample size. In the Save as type box, it should say, “.CSV”. Click Save, then Close.
If you want another sample, click Get another sample and choose your country and sample size, and complete the download. The CSV file you downloaded can now be opened or imported into whatever type of data analysis program you are planning to use.
This is the Australian data opened in a spreadsheet program. You will notice that the some of the column headings are different from the headings on the Canadian datasets, even for questions that are the same. The Australian dataset uses “Sex” where the Canadian dataset uses “Gender”. Similarly, the column “PeoplHme” (People/Home) in the Australian dataset is the same as the “Household” column in the Canadian dataset.

This will be true in the data from other countries as well: the same attribute may have a different column label, so it might be wise to preview this before using the data with your students.

As we scroll to the right, we can see many columns of data that would be useful for comparing with your class dataset: types of pets, right or left handedness, right hand reaction time, eye colour, height, length of the right foot, method and length of time to travel to school and so on.

In each of the countries there will also be questions that are unique to that country. For example in South Africa, students indicate whether or not they have running water and what kind of house they live in.

Many of the Census at School lessons in the Learning activities section can be done with either your class data, or with international data. In the Grades 4 to 8 section, the lesson How Many People in a Canadian Household? asks for five different downloads of sample sizes from 10 to 200, using Canadian data from the random data selector. The students can do these downloads themselves and each student will receive a unique set of data because it is random.

The random data selector is an excellent way to obtain data that can be compared with your class dataset and can give your students a look at normal life for students in other parts of Canada and around the world. Enjoy your data travels!

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