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Student Hand Tallies

Hand tally

Student Hand Tallies are a quick and effective way of gathering data from a transportation-related program or activity. Teachers, program staff, and/or volunteers can go to classrooms at participating schools and ask students how they get to school.

Here are a few suggestions on how to conduct student hand tallies, from Nora Cody, Program Director of the Alameda County Safe Routes to School program:

  • Start by notifying the principals and letting them know that you’re going to be conducting a hand raising tally in their classrooms. Schedule a date and time to conduct the tally.
  • In preparation for your visit, bring a large sheet of paper that includes all possible modes taken and days traveled. If you don’t bring a paper tally, you may be able to quickly draw the table on the blackboard.
  • When you arrive, don’t identify yourself as a Safe Routes to School program participant, as that may affect students’ responses.
  • Be respectful of teachers’ and classrooms’ time; while the survey will only take about five minutes, you may need to offer to come back at a better time if necessary.
  • Ask how many students are enrolled in the class, as well as how many students are in the room that day.
  • After school, students often go to after school care, sports, or other activities, so let them know that you are interested in how they plan to get home at the end of the day rather, than how they got to their after school activities.
  • Ask students first how they got to and plan to get home on the day you are tallying, then ask students about the previous day.
  • Define carpooling to students in younger grades, including alternatives like getting a ride from another family, or driving with students from another family.
  • For kindergarteners, ask them how they got to and from school individually, rather than in a large group.
  • At the end of your visit, you may hand out a parent survey for the students to take home to their parents.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School has also developed a recommended methodology with survey forms.