Analyzing the Data
Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) need to understand the data they use. Understanding a topic is one thing. Knowing what data will be helpful when making decisions is critical.
What are the pros and cons of each type of data?
Can using both types—qualitative and quantitative—provide data for decision-making?
Use these tips to drive decisions.
- Are you interested in a specific topic?
- What about the topic interests you?
- Here is an example:
- Are you looking at data to help you understand what school-based mental health services are available in your district?
- Would you like to understand the differences in services provided in schools in your district?
- Do you want to know whether teens in your district need mental health training (e.g., how to identify and respond to mental health challenges among peers)?
- Whose experiences are focused on in the data?
- Whose experiences are left out?
- Do the data show that some students’ needs are addressed differently from other students with different backgrounds?
Sometimes, you don’t have the data you need to make decisions:
- Is the problem you care about addressed in the available data?
- If not, you may need to collect new data.
- Work with experts to determine what data you need and how to best collect that data.
Qualitative data focus on why the problem may exist and how it affects people.
- These data are based on people’s experiences and knowledge.
- These data may provide more detailed information on why a problem exists and how it affects people.
- Open-ended surveys or interviews may offer less reliable evidence if they rely on the views of only a few people.
Quantitative data focus on numbers and help you understand the scope of the problem.
- These data rely on information gathered from many people.
- These data give a big picture view of the problem in a large population.
- You should pair both types of data when making decisions.