Civic Participation and Community Action Sourcebook Handout

Analyzing Survey Data

“Data” is the information we collect from surveys, interviews, or other kinds of research tools. See “First Lay the Groundwork” (p. 17) and “Choosing an Issue to Work On” (p. 10) to learn how to analyze data from open questions.

We use data from closed questions to measure and compare things. For example, look at the answers of six people who took a housing survey:

 Question Person 1 2 3 4 5 6 Do you own or rent? Own Rent Rent Rent Own Rent If you rent, how much is your rent? ---- \$450 \$900 \$800 ---- \$850 Has your rent gone up in the last year? ---- No No Yes ---- Yes

What can we find out from these answers?

1. A simple count of the answers.

Example:
How many people rent? 4
How many people pay \$600 or more in rent? 3

2. A percentage. To calculate a percentage, divide the number of answers in a category by the total number of respondents. Then multiply by 100 (or just remove the decimal point).

Example:
What percent of all respondents are owners? 2 (owners) ÷ 6 (respondents) = .33 x 100 = 33% are owners

What percent of renters had rent increases last year? 2 (with increases) ÷ 4 (renters) = .50 x 100 = 50% of renters had an increase

3. An average (mean). You can only find an average if your answers are numbers. To calculate the average, add up all the responses and then divide by the total number of respondents.

Example: What is the average rent paid? \$450 + \$900 + \$800 + \$850 = \$3000 (total rent) \$3000 (total rent) ÷ 4 (renters) = \$750 is the average rent

Use the information in the chart to answer these questions:

1. How many people pay less than the average rent?

2. What percent of renters pay more than the average rent?