SPSS Week 2: Visual Displays of Data

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Week 2: Visual Displays of Data

Imagine you are walking into a cave and traveling further and further inward, where no light can reach the inner most spaces. Suddenly, light illuminates your path and you begin to see a series of rooms, natural springs, and a variety of cave paintings on the walls and ceilings. As you observe the paintings, you realize the story told by people from years past, depicting a way of life through a visual display of images.

Even long ago, visual displays were used to communicate thoughts and ideas to others. Sometimes, just as in the visual displays on cave walls, pictures are the best way to tell a “story” where narrative words may not be sufficient. It still remains true today that “graphics are one of the most important aspects of data analysis because they allow us to visualize the data and the patterns in the data” (Dietz & Kalof, 2009, p. 66). Such is the case in statistics, where displaying data is critical.

In this week, you will examine the different ways to display data and understand why visually presenting data can illustrate the “story” of the data. You also will begin to create your own visual displays of data to further your knowledge and skill set.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Evaluate the different ways to display data
  • Create visual displays of data
  • Analyze data from datasets

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Frankfort-Nachmias, C., & Leon-Guerrero, A. (2018). Social statistics for a diverse society (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Chapter 2, “The Organization and Graphic Presentation Data” (pp. 23-62)

Wagner, III, W. E. (2020). Using IBM® SPSS® statistics for research methods and social science statistics (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Chapter 5, “Charts and Graphs”
  • Chapter 11, “Editing Output”

Walden University Writing Center. (n.d.). General guidance on data displays. Retrieved from http://waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com/2013/02/general-guidance-on-data-displays.html
Use this website to guide you as you provide appropriate APA formatting and citations for data displays.


Document: Data Set 2014 General Social Survey (dataset file)
Use this dataset to complete this week’s Discussion.
Note: You will need the SPSS software to open this dataset.

Document: Data Set Afrobarometer (dataset file)
Use this dataset to complete this week’s Assignment.
Note: You will need the SPSS software to open this dataset.

Document: High School Longitudinal Study 2009 Dataset (dataset file)
Use this dataset to complete this week’s Assignment.
Note: You will need the SPSS software to open this dataset.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2016j). Visual displays of data [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 9 minutes.
In this media program, Dr. Matt Jones discusses frequency distributions. Focus on how his explanation might support your analysis in this week’s Assignment.

Optional Resources

Skill Builders:

  • Visual Displays for Continuous Variables
  • Visual Displays for Categorical Variables

To access these Skill Builders, navigate back to your Blackboard Course Home page, and locate “Skill Builders” in the left navigation pane. From there, click on the relevant Skill Builder link for this week.

You are encouraged to click through these and all Skill Builders to gain additional practice with these concepts. Doing so will bolster your knowledge of the concepts you’re learning this week and throughout the course.

Discussion: Displaying Data

Visual displays of data provide you and anyone else with a graphical display of what is often a complex array of quantitative data. A key strength of visualization is the ability to quickly enlighten you with key data. Rather than solely relying on your audience to interpret numerical values and statistics explained in a narrative, a visual display can easily illustrate descriptions, relationships, and trends. Although the focus is on simplicity, the researcher has an obligation to present these graphical displays in a clear and meaningful way.

For this Discussion, you will explore ways to appropriately display data.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week related to frequency distributions and graphic displays of data.
  • Using the SPSS software, open the General Social Survey dataset found in this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Next, create a figure or table from a few selected variables within the dataset.
  • Finally, think about what is good about how the data are displayed in the figure or table you created and what is not so good.

By Day 3

Post your display of the table or figure you created and provide an explanation of why this would be the best way to display the data provided.

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