National EMSC Data Analysis Resource Center
Finding an average is often called the "mean." The mean is the most commonly used measure of center.
So let’s find the mean of a given dataset. Here is a sample dataset of child weights:
13 36 98 77 42 50
110 22 49 81 26 38
How do we find the mean? All we do is take the sum of the observations and divide by the count. "Wow," you’re thinking. "I just happen to already have the sum and the count of these numbers" (see chart on right). Good for you! Now you get to use them both.
So what does this mean? Well, it depends on your study. Maybe you expected that the average weight of the children would be smaller for some reason, so the mean alone is an interesting finding to you. Or maybe you were comparing this group of children with another group of children and found that the other group had an average weight of 84. You would conclude that the other group consisted of much heavier children. Very often, you will find that individual statistics do not mean much on their own, but they take on important meanings when you compare them with others.