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CensusAtSchool Australia

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Back to CensusAtSchool home page CaSMa06 - Are Males Better Drivers?

You can download this activity, the teacher solutions and the assessment rubric as a rich text file (RTF) at the bottom of the page. Download our printer friendly Prepared Samples as Excel files or access data using the Random Sampler.

Subject Area


Key Statistical Literacy Competencies Addressed
  • Data awareness
  • The ability to understand statistical concepts
  • The ability to analyse, interpret and evaluate statistical information
  • Communicating statistical information and understandings


In this activity you are to prepare a short presentation to your class. You could use PowerPoint that contains graphs. Your presentation can use the CensusAtSchool Random Sampler to gather data for an investigation of whether males will make better drivers than females. You will begin by comparing the reaction times of males to females.

  • Computer with internet connection
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Calculator
  • Pens and paper
  • Student Worksheet


A claim to investigate

Billy, one of the males in your class, has made an observation that the reaction times of males are faster than that of females. He went on to say "For driving a car quick reactions are important. Males will be better drivers than females because they have faster reaction times." Needless to say, this created some controversy in your class.

With a partner discuss what you think about the accuracy of Billy's claim.

Task One: Comparing the reaction times of males and females

You, Sammi and Jasmine, are unsure about the accuracy of Billy's claim, so you decide to investigate if males do have faster reaction times than females.

Data from the CensusAtSchool questionnaire could be used to investigate the reaction times of females and males.

Sammi suggests that a simple calculation of the mean reaction time for females and for males will give us the answer. Jasmine is not sure. She thinks that median should be used to measure the middle of a set of data. "They always use the median house price, don't they?"

Sammi also thinks it might be best to use functions in Excel. It will be easy to calculate both the mean and the median. Then they might be able to decide which is better. He is also uncertain about which reaction time to use.

1. In a group, discuss how to investigate the claim with your classmates and record how you will carry out your investigation. Don't forget to describe the sample/s you take and why you have used that sample/s.
You can go to the CensusAtSchool web site and obtain a sample from the Random Sampler or you can ask your teacher for a prepared sample from the web pages.

2. Carry out and record your investigation. Include any tables you used.

3. What can you conclude from your investigation?

Task Two: Does one number tell you enough?

Jasmine is not happy with a conclusion that is based on just one number such as a mean or median. She says that this only gives a limited picture. The mean tells you nothing about the rest of the data. Sammi wants to know about all the data and suggests that a graph such as a histogram would give a more complete picture.

Jasmine has seen box and whisker plots and stem and leaf plots and thought they were good. They could be clearer than a histogram. She thinks that drawing parallel box plots or back to back stem and leaf plots a box plot of male's reaction times with female's reaction times will enable a better comparison to be made. The person who drew the box plot used the quartile function in MS Excel and then drew the box plot by hand. You can also draw a box plot in Excel if the Add-in has been added to the tools menu.

4. Decide on a way you can show 'all the data' and carry out the task. Record the results of your method.

5. Comment on any additional information you have gained from examining 'all the data'.

Task Three: Can you say that driving ability is related to reaction time?

6. What makes a good driver? You might like to do some research on this question to support your presentation.


7. Prepare a short presentation to your class addressing the claim that males make better drivers than females. Any conclusions you draw must be based on the CensusAtSchool data or other research you have conducted. Remember that people generally find graphs and diagrams easier to understand than tables of data.

Download the Activity

Student Worksheet

Teacher Solutions

Assessment Rubric

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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