Mean, Median, and Mode – Activity Directions

Set the Stage

Have students form their teams of 2-3 before getting started.Each team needs to have an Internet-connected device they can use for research.Make sure each student has a copy of the Mean, Median, and Mode Handout. Ask the students to work independently to use their own words to write definitions for the terms mean, median, and mode. Allow them to use on or offline resources, if needed.

Give students time to talk with members of their teams to compare their definitions and correct any mistakes.

Instruction and Guided Practice

Explain that students will now explore ways that claims supported by averages can give different impressions about the meaning of a data set based upon selective use.

Say that while the nice thing about averages is they reduce a lot of numbers down to one, the challenge with averages is they can be calculated in three different ways—and that the number reported may not represent what people think unless they know to ask if they are looking at the mean, median, or mode.

Refer students to the Manipulating Averages section of the handout.

Use the example scenario provided in that section to walk students through individually calculating the mean, median, and mode for the data set provided and then to work as a team to answer the four questions about how the averages can be used to give false impressions about what the data mean.

Answer Key for Example Scenario:


  • Mean = 16.11
  • Median = 15
  • Mode = 20


1. Mode – this is the number that appears most often in the data set.

2. Median – this is the middle value in the data set.

3. Median – this is the lowest of the three averages. It is higher than the lowest hourly rates being charged, but is competitive with the highest rate charged.

Independent Practice

Check to ensure that students understand the assignment, then give teams time to work through the three scenarios included in the handout. Depending on their skill levels and the amount of time required to provide instruction, teams may need a second period to complete the assignment.

Possible Modification: Depending onyour students’skill levels and available time, you may decide to have teams work on just one of the scenarios (assign one scenario to each team) and then share answers in the class discussion.

Mean, Median, and Mode