Are homeowners more involved in their communities than renters? Does performance on standardized exams vary according to classroom size? When college sports teams are winning, do college students study less? Do foreclosures increase crime in Washington, DC neighborhoods? How have attitudes towards abortion changed in the United States over the past two decades? What impact does a criminal record have on job opportunities? To answer these – and countless other – research questions, social scientists turn to a set of research tools know as statistics.
Statistics refers to the procedures that social researchers use to collect, measure, describe and analyze quantitative data. These tools help researchers to understand whether variables in the world are related to each other. They also enable researchers make predictions about the future and to identify causal relationships in the social world. This course introduces students to a range of topics in statistical analysis, including collecting and describing data; creating visual displays of quantitative information; identifying relationships among variables; and testing research hypotheses. By the end of the course, students will develop a toolbox of statistical procedures to investigate the social world. They will gain familiarity with a popular social science dataset – the General Social Survey – used to analyze trends in social attitudes and behaviors. Students will also become critical consumers of quantitative data, thinking seriously about the way quantitative information is analyzed and presented in their everyday lives.
Click here for the Fall 2015 Syllabus.