Kinds of Information to Collect
There are two kinds of information that will be collected:
- This is also called quantitative data. A good example of this type of data is tallies of how students arrive at school.
- This is also called qualitative data. A good example of this type of data is what a principal says about traffic safety around the school during an interview.
Results of some data collection methods, such as surveys or observations, may be either numbers or words depending on the type of questions asked. Quantitative data is sometimes easier to handle — numbers from surveys are entered, totaled and compared. However, qualitative data offers a richer understanding of the how or why behind quantitative findings. For example, interviews with parents who participate in a walking school bus help reveal why they choose to be involved and how the walking school bus improves their perception of traffic safety. Interview questions can collect personal opinions or experiences; however, the answers may not necessarily reflect reality. For example, the question “Do walking school buses keep children safe?” can best be answered with data rather than personal opinion. Both quantitative and qualitative data are useful and can inform each other so that together they paint a more complete picture. The type of information collected (quantitative or qualitative) becomes important later when it is time to interpret findings because they will be analyzed in different ways.