The "Perfect" Date: Ranking and Rating Decisions with a Spreadsheet

Semra Kilic-Bahi, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In this Spreadsheet Across the Curriculum activity, students will build a spreadsheet to apply a ranking and rating scheme using weighted averages to help them decide which person to date. In the activity they will explore the difficulties involved in rating systems. One of the main issues is to decide how to measure and rank the quantitative and qualitative factors that affect their decision.

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Learning Goals

Students will:
  • Explore difficulties involved in measuring and rating qualitative data.
  • Rate certain attributes according to their own personal preferences.
  • Assign weights to these attributes.
  • Use an equation for the weighted average to perform a calculation in Excel
  • Use the sort function in Excel.
In the process the students will:
  • Gain experience with Excel equations.
  • Gain experience with weighted averages and how they can apply to real-life situations.

Context for Use

This module explores the difficulties involved in rating systems in a very elementary, informal manner. I have designed it to be used in my introductory-level Liberal Arts Mathematics course. It can also be used in a high school mathematics course. I will use it in a classroom where each student will have a computer.

Description and Teaching Materials

The module is a PowerPoint presentation with embedded spreadsheets. If the embedded spreadsheets are not visible, save the PowerPoint file to disk and open it from there.

The above PowerPoint files are the student version of the module. An instructor version is available by request. The instructor version includes the completed spreadsheet. Send your request to Len Vacher ( by filling out and submitting the Instructor Module Request Form.

Teaching Notes and Tips

I will start by giving the students the pre-test available on the instructor version. Then I will pose the "problem" -- which person to date -- and ask the students to make a decision and, further, to explain the criteria they used to make this decision. Then I will give the module to the students without the "end of module assignments" slides. I will ask them to answer specific questions about the module to guarantee that students go over the whole module and understand the basic ideas presented in it. Afterward, I will give them the end-of-module assignments as a separate Word document and ask them to submit the Word document with their answers. I will include specific instructions on how to place Excel files into Word documents ("paste special," then "Microsoft Excel file").


The assessment of the module will focus on:
  • Basic Skills - procedural math skills
  • Basic Concepts - questions geared towards understanding the conceptual context of the math skills
  • Application:
    • 1) Can students apply the math skills in the context of the module?
    • 2) Can they "transfer" these skills to a similar problem in a different context?
  • Pre and Post tests
  • End of Module Assignments
  • End of module feedback questions

For the class overall, I will use a student attitude survey at the beginning and end of the semester. The survey, which focuses on self-confidence, value, enjoyment, and motivation, is part of the Colby-Sawyer Quantitative Across the Curriculum project

References and Resources

Somer, Kay; Sevilla, Alicia "Quantitative Reasoning", Key College Publishing Company