Data collected through assessment can either be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative data uses numbers, such as specific scores, averages, or most frequent scores, to report the findings. The same information is collected for each student using the same assignment(s); the different responses are then translated into a series of numbers. On the other hand, qualitative data uses words or a narrative evaluation rather than numbers to collect the data, resulting in more flexibility in data collection. It focuses more on understanding processes and events, rather than precisely measuring them. Quantitative data is typically viewed as more objective, while qualitative data is considered more subjective. Both types of data are informative but require different methods of presenting and analyzing data.
Quantitative data can be represented as a disrtibution of scores, means, or percentages, for example. Qualitative data, such as critiques in performing arts and design programs, reviewing portfolios of student work, or observing oral presentations in a class, are more descriptive.
To effectively make sense of the data, it may be necessary to translate qualitative data into measurable, quantitative data or numbers and examine it in a quantifiable way in order to identify significant trends in the data. This can be achieved by designing rubrics that reflects the skills and knowledge in the project being assessed, using specific criteria related to the project.
A detailed summary of the assessment findings should include: the number of students assessed and the distribution of their scores for each measure. Results can be summarized using tallies of the number of students who achieved a certain rating on a rubric, percentages, averages, or qualitative summaries.
Questions to consider about data quality:
- Is it relevant to the outcome being assessed?
- Is it representative of students work or the situation being assessed?
- Does it provide guidance for action and improvement?