Qualitative Data
(KS2, Year 5)

Qualitative data is data that is described in words. Qualitative data does not use numbers.

Dictionary Definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines qualitative as "of or relating to quality or qualities; measuring, or measured by, the quality of something. In later use often contrasted with quantitative."

Real Examples of Qualitative Data

  • A teacher collects the names of their pupils in a register. The names of the pupils are qualitative data. They describe the pupils in words, not in numbers. qualitative_data_names
  • A man records the vehicles passing by on the road. The type of vehicles are qualitative data. They describe the vehicles in words, not in numbers. qualitative_data_vehicles

Types of Qualitative Data

We can be more specific about types of qualitative data.
  • Attribute (or dichotomous) data has only two categories: yes/no, male/female.
  • Nominal data is unordered qualitative data: color, shape, name.
  • Ordinal data is ordered qualitative: very small, small, large, very large.


Other Types of Data

Qualitative data is only one type of data. The other type of data is quantitative data. This is data described in numbers.

Categorical Data

Another name for qualitative data is categorical data.
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This page was written by Stephen Clarke.