Analysing synthetic microdata from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth for ages 16-17


National Longitudinal Survey of Children LogoThe National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) is a unique study of Canadians from birth to adulthood. This data file is a synthetic file based on the NLSCY data containing 359 records. It represents 359 youth, approximately one fifth of the 16-17 year old cohort who completed the survey in 2002-2003. In order to preserve confidentiality for the respondents, each record in the synthetic file contains both real and artificial data.

The synthetic data provide sufficiently accurate results for use by high school students to practise statistical analysis techniques but should not be used to produce estimates for formal analysis and publication.

The respondents were asked a series of questions about themselves and their lives. The questions were divided into the following seven categories:

In this activity, students will be introduced to microdata files from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth for Ages 16-17 and will begin to analyse NLSCY variables from each section of the survey.

Contributors: Jonathan Lee, Queen's University; Tracey Bushnik, Jennifer Hall, and Joel Yan, Statistics Canada


Suggested grade levels and subject area

Grade 11 or 12
Mathematics (Data Management)


Two to four 75 minute periods


Classroom instructions

  1. If necessary, give a quick review of one- and two-variable data analysis techniques.
  2. Using the computer projector, provide the students with an overview of the NLSCY survey, using the information provided on the Mathematics Data page of the Statistics Canada Learning resources website.
  3. Ensure students know how to launch the statistical software to be used and how to import the NLSCY synthetic microdata into this software from the Statistics Canada website.
  4. Divide the students into seven groups, one for each section (A to G) of the questionnaire. Distribute the analysis questions to each group (Note: All of the analysis questions for the different sections are in one file, so you will need to cut them into the separate sections). Ensure that within each group, each question is being investigated by at least one student.
  5. Distribute the student worksheet and have students complete Part 1 independently.
    Note: To save time, this step can be completed as homework.
  6. After students have independently investigated their two questions, have the groups reconvene to summarize their findings for their assigned section of the survey in Part 2 of the worksheet.
  7. Have students from each group share highlights of their overall findings with the class. This can be done via a PowerPoint presentation, a brief oral report, or another format of the teacher's choosing. During the presentations, brainstorm with the class ways that students could use these microdata for a major project. Have students write ideas for further analysis and project work on their worksheets in Part 3 of the worksheet.
  8. Collect the worksheet for evaluation.


Students can be informally assessed on their work habits and computer skills throughout this activity. They can be formally assessed via the worksheet, which can be marked using a marking scheme of the teacher's choice.