The Value of an Education


Susanne Morgan, Ithaca College

Learning Goals


To orient students to WebCHIP, by in-class demonstration

To learn to identify the contents of various datasets, read marginals, and read a percentaged crosstab table.

To give beginning practice writing about data.

To provide a brief homework assignment beginning to graphically illustrate data.


To clarify common misperceptions about the frequency and value of a college education.

To use collaborative learning techniques.

Context for Use

This exercise was developed for use in a lower-level sociology course. Students will complete an exercise that involves individual guesses, group consensus, and then demonstration of census data to understand the relationship between education level and income.

This module will focus on the value of an education. Students will be asked the following questions: "Does equal education guarantee equal earnings? If not, why? Besides education, what else affects one's earnings?" In a search for an answer to these question, students will consider such factors as race, gender, and age in terms of the role they play in the determination of earnings.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses three customized data sets made from the 1990 Census and guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!