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HDFS 2320 - Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies

Understanding graphs

Diagrams and charts are important because they present information visually. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies when it comes diagrams and charts. 

When you read an article,

  • Don’t skip over diagrams and graphs when reading!
  • These visual aids provide summaries or can illustrate a complex process; understanding how to read them is a very efficient way to learn material.
  • When tackling diagrams or graphs, pay attention to:
    • Captions: What clues about the illustration can you gain from the general description?
    • Labels: Can you define or describe the items labeled? If not, reread the text.
    • Directionality: Are there arrows, numbers or letters that orient the illustration?
  • The Big Picture: Do you notice any trends in data? Can you draw conclusions about relationships among items on a diagram?

Take the following lessons on:

Or watch this video to understand statistical graphs and when to use them.