Samples Sizes and Fun with M&Ms Lesson Plan

This 60-minute lesson is intended to be used for a class meeting after students have read about sampling. It is geared towards students in Experimental Psychology but part of it was adapted from an Introductory Statistics lesson about sample size (Ciarocco, 2010).

By the end of these activities, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the role of sample size in making a sample representative of a population.
  2. Interpret basic statistics used to compare proportions to hypothetical values.
  3. Critique the claim that “a bigger sample is always better” based on practical, statistical, and experimental considerations.


  1. Lesson plan: Brodsky_Sample_Sizes_Lesson_Plan
  2. Notecards
  3. Sample sizes worksheet: Brodsky_Sample_Sizes_Worksheet
  4. Small bags of plain M&Ms (1 per student)
  5. SPSS or another statistical software (I have provided syntax for analyses in the lesson plan)
  6. Print out of the following article (1 per student):

Part of this lesson plan was adapted  from Ciarocco, N. 2010. Samples Representing the Population with the Use of M&Ms. Retrieved from

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