Teaching mathematics
Teaching mathematics

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1.9 Stem and leaf diagrams

As well as recording data in frequency tables, results can be recorded and presented in a stem and leaf diagram. This visual representation allows for the data to be grouped in classes and it shows the shape of the data.

A group of students challenged their teachers to a speed-texting competition. The 21 participants (12 students and 9 teachers) were each required to send a short text message on a mobile phone. Their times are given in Figure 3 in order of size.

Table showing student and teacher times (in seconds) for a speed texting competition in an ordered list.
Figure 3 Speed-texting scores

Creating a stem and leaf diagram involves finding the ‘stems’, in this case the tens, and then recording the ‘leaves’ in order.

The stem and leaf diagram for the student times is shown in Figure 4. You can see that 1|9 represents 19 and 4|1 represents 41. There are no values between 0 and 10 which is shown as there are no leaves next to the stem 0. The greatest value in this data set is 41, so there are no values next to the stem 5 either.

An ordered stem and leaf diagram
Figure 4 An ordered stem and leaf diagram

Activity 7 Creating a stem and leaf diagram

Timing: Allow 10 minutes

On paper, have a go at creating an ordered stem and leaf diagram for the teacher’s data from Figure 3.


Your diagram should look like Figure 5.

Completed stem and leaf diagram
Figure 5 Completed stem and leaf diagram

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