Chocs and Blocks statistical sampling activity

First Year
Guided activity, Lecture
Mathematics and statistics, Statistics
The University of Melbourne
Aug 2021

Chocs and Blocks is an in-class statistical sampling activity involving chocolate.

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About this resource


Chocs and Blocks is an in-class sampling activity designed to provide an experiential foundation upon which students can build understandings of sampling and sampling bias, sampling variability and estimation, sampling distributions and other key statistical concepts.


Less than 1 hr.

Pedagogical backing


Carefully designed sequences of activities can help students improve their reasoning and understanding in statistics (Garfield & Ben-Zvi, 2007). Several principles of mathematical task design apply to this activity, such as offering multiple entry and exit points, approaching the unknown from what is known to the students (Ahmed, 1987) and offering the potential for mathematically (or statistically) fruitful activity (Mason & Johnston-Wilder, 2006; Gunn, 2011).

How is the resource used

An interactive lecture activity, held in a large lecture theatre or a computer lab classroom, over a 50-minute class.

Student evaluation

This activity has been run with students for over 20 years, originally in an offline format and more recently using this online version. The suggested structure of the activity as described in the teaching notes is based on years of refinement and improvement. We run it each year with lecture classes of 150-200 first-year statistics students.


Sharon Gunn and Anthony Morphett (

Chocs and Blocks is based on an earlier activity by Professor Nye John and Dr David Whittaker from the University of Waikato at the end of the last century. The Chocs and Blocks webpage was designed by Sharon Gunn and Anthony Morphett and developed by The University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments and Anthony Morphett, with financial support from the School of Mathematics and Statistics. An earlier Chocs and Blocks website was developed by Russell Jenkins. The Chocs and Blocks setup program was developed by Anthony Morphett. The documentation for teachers was written by Sharon Gunn and Anthony Morphett.

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