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Define Unit of Analysis

The first step in deciding how you will analyze the data is to define a unit of analysis (Trochim, 2006).

  • Your unit of analysis is the “who” or the “what” that you are analyzing for your study.
  • Your unit of analysis could be an individual student, a group, or even an entire program.

It is important to understand that your unit of analysis is not the same as your unit of observation. It is possible to analyze data in various ways.

  • For instance, data from the student survey example in the previous example (click to revisit example) was recorded for individual students (i.e., the unit of observation), but you could group the students by city and compare Boston students to New York students, thus creating a new unit of analysis (i.e., groups of students).