Community Assessment

An Important Distinction: Quantitative and Qualitative Data

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As you plan for data collection, it is also important to distinguish between quantitative and qualitative data. In addition to being collected in different ways, these data are also expressed differently.

  • Quantitative data is expressed in numerical terms.
  • Qualitative data is represented in words, collected either verbally or in writing.

In order to have a high-quality community assessment, it is necessary to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. If you can visualize ahead of time how the data might be displayed in graphs, tables, or charts, you will have a frame of reference for organizing your information.

Table 2.2: Displaying the Data

Data that are…

can be explained in a…

in numbers or percentages

in written or spoken words


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Everything you have done so far has laid a solid foundation for Step 3, Gather Data. This next phase will establish the method you will use to gather the data, who you will engage, and what questions you will ask. Use the A Closer Look: Responsible Data Management to review how to treat community assessment data in a respectful way that upholds the rights of the people whose data is collected.