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CIE A-Level Maths Study Notes

5.4.2 Critique of Sampling Methods

Sampling methods are pivotal in statistics, as they significantly influence the accuracy and reliability of statistical conclusions. This section aims to provide a comprehensive critique of various sampling methods, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. It also delves into the use of random numbers for generating random samples, an essential concept for ensuring the validity of statistical studies.

Evaluating Sampling Methods

Understanding the different types of sampling methods is crucial in statistical analysis. Each method has its unique features, advantages, and limitations, which affect the outcomes of a study.

Random Sampling

  • What is it? Choosing individuals randomly so everyone has the same chance.
  • Pros: Fair, reduces bias, and the results can apply to everyone.
  • Cons: Hard to do in big groups, needs a lot of effort.
  • Illustration: A simple graph showing equal selection chances.
Random Sampling

Image courtesy of geeksforgeeks

Systematic Sampling

  • What is it? Picking every nth person in a list.
  • Pros: Easy, works well for big groups.
  • Cons: Can be biased if the list has patterns.
  • Illustration: A list with highlighted nth positions.
Systematic Sampling

Image courtesy of fynzo

Stratified Sampling

  • What is it? Splitting the group into smaller groups and sampling each one.
  • Pros: All subgroups are included, more precise.
  • Cons: Needs detailed knowledge of the group.
  • Illustration: Diagram of a population divided into strata with samples from each.
Stratified Sampling

Image courtesy of simplypsychology

Cluster Sampling

  • What is it? Dividing the group into clusters, then choosing whole clusters randomly.
  • Pros: Saves money, good for spread-out groups.
  • Cons: Can be inaccurate if clusters are too different.
  • Illustration: Map showing clusters with selected ones highlighted.
Cluster Sampling

Image courtesy of simplypsychology

Convenience Sampling

  • What is it? Choosing people who are easy to reach.
  • Pros: Quick and cheap.
  • Cons: Might not represent everyone.
  • Illustration: Diagram showing a small, easily accessible group within a larger population.
Convenience Sampling

Image courtesy of simplypsychology

Problems with Non-Random Sampling

  • Selection Bias: Picking certain people more.
  • Undercoverage: Missing parts of the group.
  • Volunteer Bias: Only using people who volunteer.

Generating Random Samples

  • Example: Picking 5 out of 30 students using random numbers.
  • Process: Number students, use a random number generator, select students with those numbers.
Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa avatar
Written by: Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa
Oxford University - PhD Mathematics

Rahil spent ten years working as private tutor, teaching students for GCSEs, A-Levels, and university admissions. During his PhD he published papers on modelling infectious disease epidemics and was a tutor to undergraduate and masters students for mathematics courses.

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