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# Contingency Tables

## and the Chi Square

Statistic

Interpreting Computer
Printouts and
Constructing Tables
Contingency Tables/Chi Square
Statistics
What are they?

A contingency table is a table that shows the
relationship between two categorical variables.

The Chi-square statistic reflects the strength of this
relationship. All else equal, the greater the chi-square
statistic, the stronger the relationship. The chi square
statistic is usually reported at the bottom of a
contingency table.

The probability associated with the chi-square statistic
indicates the probability that you would be incorrect if
you were to assert that there is a relationship between
these same two variables in the population from which
Contingency Tables/Chi Square
Statistics
Why should you be able to interpret a
contingency table and chi-square statistic?

If you are submitting an article for publication in a peer
reviewed journal you may use a contingency table. You
want to interpret it accurately.

Before you implement a program, you want to review
programs. These articles may contain contingency
tables. You want to be a wise consumer of information.

If you are evaluating your own program, it is likely that
you will use contingency tables. Contingency tables can
how effective it is and/or if the effectiveness varies by
such factors as gender, race, etc.

Before you make recommendations or engage in
political advocacy, you want empirical evidence to
substantiate your claims. Contingency tables can be
used to provide this evidence.
Contingency Tables/Chi Square
Statistics

When would you use them?

Contingency tables and the corresponding chi-square
statistic is very useful for those implementing programs,
and should be used BEFORE important decisions are

Any responsible extension employee would use
correctly implemented evaluation research to evaluate
their programs and measure their objectives. Properly
interpreted Chi square statistics can be an important
part of that evaluation.

When applying for grants to support existing programs,
it is a good idea to use statistics to validate claims that
the program works. Chi square can be one of these
statistics.

When justifying grant monies spent on programs,
evaluation research should be used. Responsible
administrators should use accurate statistics to provide
evidence that their objectives were met.

Examples of When to Use Them
You should use contingency tables and chi
square statistics:

BEFORE you use any Intervention, so you can determine if
there is evidence that it will work and for whom it will work.

For instance You should be able to interpret contingency
tables reported in the literature that have been used to
evaluate similar programs. You want to know if there is
evidence that a program like yours will work, and what factors
could influence its effectiveness.

BEFORE implementing and/or continuing any program, so you
will know if its worth your continued time and effort.

For instance - Is the percent of students who received an A in
school greater for those who belonged to your 4-H program
relative to those who did not?

For instance - What factors are most important when
attempting to increase the effectiveness of this intervention?

For instance - What percent of those involved in intervention 1
saw the program as effective compared to the percent
involved in intervention 2.

Examples of When to Use Them

BEFORE you report the results of your evaluation and/or make
recommendations, so you can accurately explain the risks and
probabilities.

on standardized tests, then (1) Are scores on standardized
tests related to academic achievement, and (2) How many
computers must you purchase to see a significant gain in
standardized test scores for this group?

For instance - What percent of your clients experienced
increased economic stress after paying to participate in your
program? Does this economic stress outweigh benefits?

For instance, Can you identify the most important factors in
your program? If you were forced to curtail activities which
activities could you eliminate without significantly decreasing

Assumptions of Chi Square
The statistics generated by the computer for chi-
square are only valid if the data meet the following
qualifications:

Both the independent and dependent variables are
categorical.*

Researchers used a random sample to collect data.

Generally the sample size should be at least 100.

The number of respondents in each cell should be at
least 5. If not, you can use a Fishers Exact or other
tests.

*Generally the number of categories is somewhere between 3 and 7.
More than 7 categories can be overwhelming and confusing to the
Contingency Tables/Chi Square
Statistics

How do you interpret them?

There are two parts of a contingency table that you must
correctly interpret:

The chi square statistic

The numbers in the table

Contingency Tables/Chi Square
Statistics
How do you interpret them?

The chi square statistic

It is relatively easy to interpret a chi square statistic if
you know three things

First all else equal, the greater the chi square
number, the stronger the relationship between the
dependent and independent variable
.
Second the lower the probability associated
with a chi-square statistic, the stronger the
relationship between the dependent and
independent variable.

Third If your probability is .05 or less, then you
can generalize from a random sample to a
population, and claim the two variables are
associated in the population.

Contingency Tables/Chi Square
Statistics
How do you interpret them?

The numbers in the contingency table

There are a few simple rules that makes it easier to
interpret a contingency table. These include:

First to avoid confusion, always put the
independent variable on the side and the
dependent variable on the top.

Second focus on the percent not on the
frequency.

Third use the percent that totals to 100 percent
for each independent variable (e.g., the row
percent).

Fourth compare the percent for each category of
the independent variable across the independent
variables.

A contingency table reported in the literature should
look something like the one above.
When interpreting this table, you compare the
percent of each independent category. In this case, 10% of
White mothers, compared to 44.83% of Black mothers and
The probability associated with the chi square
statistic of 9.205 is less than .01 indicating there is a strong
news and her race.
Contingency Table. Mothers Racial Identification by
Child from the Childs Teacher.
Computer Printouts
How do you Interpret them?

How do you construct a table from a computer
printout?

How do you construct and interpret a bar chart
from a contingency table?
Chi- Square/Contingency Table
Purpose
Examine relationship between two categorical variables
Determine if the dependent variable is contingent on the
independent variable

Definition of Terms
Cells
Squares that make up chi-square printout (sometimes
referred to as table)
Each cell contains 4 numbers. These are referred to
as:
Frequency (raw numbers or count)
Percent
Row Percent
Column Percent
Tabulates the number of times each possible
combination of the values of the independent and
dependent variables occur (in your sample)

Rows (r)
Cells that are attached horizontally are referred to as
a row
Row percents make up the numbers in the cells that
percentage to 100 across these rows.
Columns (c)
Cells that are attached vertically are referred to as a
column
Column percents make up the numbers in the cells
that percentage to 100 down these columns.

Degrees of Freedom
A number that you would use to find the critical value
of a chi square statistic using a chi square table.
The formula you use to compute a chi square statistic
is (r 1) (c 1) = df

Critical Value of Chi-Square Statistic
The value of the chi-square statistic associated with a
.05 probability of making an error if you reject the null
hypothesis. Your chi square statistic must be greater
than this if your relationship is significant. This is not
reported in the printout, but the reported value must
be greater than this if you are to reject the null
hypothesis.

Computed Chi-Statistic
The computed value of the chi-square statistic.
Generally the greater the chi square statistic, the
lower the probability that you make a mistake if you
reject the null hypothesis.
Generally the greater the chi square statistic, the
stronger the relationship between the independent
and dependent variable.

Chi Square
Statistic
reported here
Probability
reported
here
Research
Question:

Is preferred
ice cream
flavor
related to
race?
fabricated and to be used
only for illustration.

Research Question: Is race related to ice cream flavor preference?
fabricated and to be used only
for illustration.
One Interpretation:

65% of Blacks,
compared to
35.96% of
Hispanics and
34.18% of Whites
prefer Butter
Pecan. Blacks
were almost twice
as likely to prefer
Butter Pecan.
The relationship
between race and
ice cream
preference is
significant at the
.0001 level.
Here is an
example of a table
(above) that was
constructed from a
printout (below).
The table reports
the row percent,
the frequency in
each cell and the
chi square statistic.
Chi-square results can be presented in a
contingency table. In this table you report, the frequency in
each cell. If the independent (causal) variable is on the side,
you report the row percent. If the independent (causal)
variable is on the top, you report the column percent.
When interpreting this table, you compare the
percent of each independent category. In this case, 10% of
White mothers, compared to 44.83% of Black mothers and
Contingency Table. Mothers Racial Identification by
Child from the Childs Teacher.
Using data from the previous
slide, you could construct the
following graph:
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
White Black Hispanic
No
Yes
Or you could use the same
data to construct this graph:
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Yes No
Black
White
Hispanic
CHART 5
Middle/High School Students Perception of How Good
They are at Finding Resources by Whether or Not They
11%
7%
28%
7%
13%
44%
17%
43%
9%
24%
0.00%
20.00%
40.00%
60.00%
80.00%
100.00%
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree Undecided Agree Strongly
Agree
Di d
Di d Not
(p <0.0001)
Contingency tables are often used to construct two-variable bar charts.
In this case, the extent to which students agree that they are good at
finding resources is contingent on whether or not they made decisions
about their Service Learning Project. Assuming the independent
variable is on the side of the computer printout, the row percent is used
to construct the bar chart. The probability is less than .0001 indicating a
strong relationship between these two variables. All else equal, the
less the probability, the stronger the relationship.
CHART 5
Middle/High School Students Perception of How Good
They are at Finding Resources by Whether or Not They
11%
7%
28%
7%
13%
44%
17%
43%
9%
24%
0.00%
20.00%
40.00%
60.00%
80.00%
100.00%
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree Undecided Agree Strongly
Agree
Di d
Di d Not
(p <0.0001)
Interpreting the Bar Chart
Interpret the most striking comparison for your audience. For
instance, Twenty-eight percent of those who made decisions
about their Service Learning Project agreed that they were good
at finding resources, compared to only seventeen percent of
those who did not make decisions about their projects.
Interpreting Bar Charts
CHART 7
Middle/High School Students Perception of the Level to
Which They Agree Teachers Listen to Their Ideas by
Learning Projects
8%
3%
27%
9%
21%
35%
20%
39%
15%
22%
0.00%
20.00%
40.00%
60.00%
80.00%
100.00%
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree Undecided Agree Strongly
Agree
Di d
Di d Not
(p <0.0001)
In this case, the extent to which students feel teachers
listen to them is contingent on whether or not they made
decisions about their Service Learning Project. 8% of
those who did make decisions about their Service Learning
Project felt their teachers listened to them compared to
only 3% of those who did not make decisions.
Contact Information
Dr. Carol Albrecht
Assessment Specialist
USU Extension
Carol.albrecht@usu.edu
979-777-2421