Descriptive statistics are the appropriate analyses when the goal of the research is to present the participants’ responses to survey items in order to address the research questions. There are no hypotheses in descriptive statistics.
Descriptive statistics include: frequencies and percentages for categorical (ordinal and nominal) data; and averages (means, medians, and/or ranges) and standard deviations for continuous data. Frequency is the number of participants that fit into a certain category or group; it is beneficial to know the percent of the sample that coincides with that category/group. Percentages can be calculated to assess the percent of the sample that corresponds with the given frequency; typically presented without decimal places (according to APA 6^{th} ed. standards). Typically, the average that is calculated/presented is the mean. Means describe the average unit for a continuous item; and standard deviations describe the spread of those units in reference to the mean.
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Example: a study was conducted on a group of college students about specific courses offered, where the questions had “check all that apply” responses. The study’s research question asked “What courses offered to college students are most prevalent?” Descriptive statistics would be the appropriate analysis to address the research question. Frequencies and percentages could be conducted on the survey’s listed courses that students took/registered for. See the table below for details.
Course  n  % 
English composition 101

35

25

Chemistry 101

53

66

Algebra 101

16

4

Pottery

2

1

Intro to Psychology

70

85

Art 101

72

86
