Data Explained

There is more data in the world today than any one person will ever be able to analyze.  Even with limited data, organizing the results can be done many ways, from simple formats to detailed ones.  

When organizing data results, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the results need to be clear and understandable. We take the information, categorize it and make it easier to understand or process for everyone else.

People tend to think of data as obscure numbers, but it can also be found in everyday conversation.  For example, when I travel, I like to do the driving and have my passenger do to the navigating.  I would much rather have my navigator say “after 3 miles, turn left” rather than “after 3 miles, head south.” To me the word “left” translates the data into my terms.

Teachers also use data everyday.  Student exams, for instance, are another example of this. Test results are gathered, tabulated and relayed to the class. The teacher may also use this data to analyze particular questions and double-check the questions for fairness. If the data showed that students consistently failed one question, but did well on the rest, then the data can be used as a tool to determine if that material was covered properly.

Even businesses use data everyday for tasks such as accounting. One great tactic for demonstrating information is a visual aid. Charts and graphs have become easily accessible with modern technology.  For me, pie charts are a really effective way of demonstrating information.

I also use data in my own job.  Recently, I gathered results from a career pathway survey given to students throughout the area.  Once each student completed the survey forms, I scanned them into a software program that allowed me to let the educators know the:

  • Number of males completing survey
  • Number of females completing survey
  • Breakdown of which school students attended
  • The career areas each student selected (Arts/Communication, Business, Engineering, Health Sciences, Human Services, and Natural Resources)

From the information received, educators were able to host a career day for the students so they could learn more about their career of interest.  The data helped plan the career day event.  
All-in-all, when working with data it is important to remember that it is a tool used to convey information. The way we frame that information determines how useful it can is to the business. Remember, keep it clear and understandable and don’t be afraid to use visuals! The ultimate goal of any data analysis is to translate it so that everyone else can have the same knowledge that you do.

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