Variable , Measurement and SPSS




Variables, Measurement, and SPSS

RSCH 8210- Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Fall 2019


Education in the U.S., although still considered influential for overall future success, is floundering in recent times. Issues such as overcrowding, lack of funding, and quality of facilitators are sometimes indicated as the scapegoats for this dilemma (Lynch, 2017), however research data shows that these factors are only minimal contributions to this problem. The purpose of this paper is to take a closer look at data provided that will assist in the following: Identifying variables that may contribute to this issue, explaining units of analysis and levels of measurement that support these variables, and how these variables influence social change.

Description of Variables

The high school longitudinal study of 2009 provides various possible factors that may contribute to the issues of concern pertaining to education in the United States. Of these, two that mentioned that can be considered as the most influential do not focus on the students themselves, but their parents.

The first variable of interest is highest level of education for the parents. In order to identify this, the data set creates a category system of level in education that include the following: 1- less than high school, 2- high school diploma/GED, 3- certification/diploma from school providing occupational training, 4- Associate’s degree, 5- Bachelor’s degree, 6-Master’s degree, 7- PhD/MD/Law/other high level professional degree (2009). Other categories such as -9 (missing information), -8 (non-response), -7 (Item legitimate skip/NA), and 0- No bio/adoptive/step parents in home are identified as well.

The second variable of interest is the employment status of the parents. In order to identify this, the data set creates a category system pertaining to past as well as current employment history to include the following (2009): 1- has never worked for pay, 2- not currently working for pay, 3- currently working part time (less than 35 hours a week), and 4- currently working full time (more than 35 hours a week). Other categories such as -9 (missing information), -8 (non-response), -7 (Item legitimate skip/NA), and -6 (component not applicable) are identified as well.

Unit of Analysis

According to the class reading, the unit of analysis is explained as the object of research, with examples including individuals, groups, organizations, or social artifacts (Frankfort-Nachmias, & Leon-Guerrero, 2018). In both variable cases, the unit of analysis would be the parents, in that their past academic history as well as current/history of employment is being utilized as research factor material.

Levels of Measurement

Given the categories in data set for the parent’s highest level of education, the level of measurement would be considered ordinal. The ordinal level of measurement is explained as numbers being assigned to rank order categories, using the example of low, middle, and high (2018). Because the categories of education level ascend from 1 being less than high school education to 7 being PhD/M.D./Law/ other high level professional degree, ordinal level of measurement seems appropriate.

For identifying the level of measurement for parents’ employment status, it is not as clear as it is for the education variable. Although there appears to be a ranking order for employment categories (ordinal), there is a more pronounced dataset that leans to a nominal approach. The nominal level of measurement indicates numbers or other symbols assigned to a set of categories for naming purposes (2018). In this capacity, identifying parents by way of employed, full time employed, part time employed, and unemployed can be seen less as a ranking scale, but set groups to fit into.

Variables and Social Change

Implications of social change. Social change can take on different meanings, from changes that influence society to how society influences change. In observing the variables selected, both apply. Low income households as well as lack of education obtained by parents create a disadvantage for children (Ratcliffe, 2015). This goes back to Lynch’s argument on reasons for education failing our youth, stating the first factor being lack of parent involvement (Lynch, 2017). The consequence of parents obtaining insufficient education is two-fold, parents have to work more hours to maintain financial stability and they may lack the education needed to assist with homework. Focus on low income/ low education is presented here due to more research available, and is in no way excluding the smaller percentage of children in a moderate to higher income/ education household.

How variables are used for social change. Sadly, these variables represent a large population across the Unites States. How can we utilize these variables to promote social change that can provide a more positive future for our youth? This information can be beneficial in creating programs, such as mentoring or after school programs for children as well as parenting trainings or night school programs, to provide opportunity for change.

Parents do not want to be inaccessible to their children or create a life that can possibly effect the success on their future. Taking notice of this variables that play an influential factor in the future of our children and using them to create preventative measures through assisting these parents, society is initiating change for the betterment as a whole.


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

High School Longitudinal Study 2009 Dataset. HSLongStudy_student.sav [DateSet1]- IBM SPSS Statistics Data Editor;

Lynch, M. (2017, April 3). 18 Reasons the U.S. Education System is Failing. Retrieved from;

Ratcliffe, C. (2015, September). Child Poverty and Adult Success. Retrieved from Adult-Success.pdf;