The level of measurement has been classified into basically four categories. It is important for the researcher to understand that the level of measurement is determined partly by arithmetic operations and statistical operations.
Sorted in an ascending order of precision, the four different levels of measurement are the nominal, the ordinal, the interval and the ratio scale.
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The first among the four levels of measurement is the nominal level. This level of measurement basically refers to those cases in which the numbers are used to organize the data. The use of words and letters is also done in this level of measurement. Suppose there is data that has two categories of students, namely weak students and strong students. Using this level of measurement, the researcher can easily classify the weak category of students with the letter ‘W,’ and the strong category of students can be denoted with an ‘S.’ This assigning of letters to distinguish the classification is the nominal level of measurement.
The second type of level of measurement is the ordinal level. This level of measurement generally involves those measurements that signify some kind of ordered associations between the number items. If four teams participate in a match, the team that has beaten all three teams would win the match and would be assigned the first rank. Then, the team performing right below the first team would be assigned the second rank, and so on. Thus, this level of measurement also assigns the reasons behind the rank assigned to any particular item. So, this level of measurement indicates the appropriate ordering of the measurements. The researcher should note that in this type of level of measurement, the change or the share between any two types of rankings does not remain the same along the scale.
The next type of level of measurement is that of the interval level of measurement. In this level of measurement, the researcher categorizes and assigns orders to the measurements and also reveals that the distances between each interval on the scale is equivalent along the scale from the low interval to the high interval. One such example is the measurement of anxiety of a student that is in between the score of 10 and 11 is same as if the student is in between the score of 40 and 41. Another appropriate example for this type of level of measurement is that while measuring the temperature in centigrade, the distance between 940C and 960C is similar to the distance between 1000C and 1020C.
The last level of measurement is the ratio level of measurement. In this type of level of measurement, the researcher can observe a value of actual zero as well. This kind of phenomena is quite unlike the other types of level of measurement. However, the researcher should note that this level of measurement has the same property as that of the interval level of measurement. The divisions between the points on the scale have the equivalent distance between them, and the rankings assigned to the items are according to their size in this level of measurement.
The researcher should note that among these levels of measurements, the nominal level is simply used to classify the data, whereas the levels of measurement described by the interval and the ratio are much more exact.