Sociology | Statistics for Sociology
S371 | 25264 | Klugman


Our understanding of much of reality relies on statistics.  Everyday,
the media is saturated with statistical claims about our opinions,
consumer habits, economic-well-being, and even our bodies.
Unfortunately, it is easy to misuse statistics to confirm one’s biases
instead of making honest assessments of social processes.
Sociologists need a basic foundation in statistics so they can
critically evaluate others’ arguments as well as avoid mistakes when
we conduct our own research.

This course introduces statistical techniques appropriate for
answering sociological questions.  We will cover both descriptive and
inferential statistics.  Descriptive statistics describe or summarize
sets of numbers.  Inferential statistics use sample data to make
estimates about the wider population of interest (for example, using
surveys to find out which candidate will win an election, whether or
not voters will recall a governor, what’s the most popular TV show in
America, etc).  This course will cover statistics that describe a
single variable (e.g. what is the average income of Americans?) as
well as statistics that describe relationships between multiple
variables (e.g.
what are the differences between income for men and women, and whites,
blacks, and Latinos?).

S371 has a mandatory lab component where you will learn how to use
SPSS, a statistical software package commonly used in academic,
business, and non-profit research.  The lab location and meeting times
are listed at the top of this syllabus.

No prior knowledge of statistics is assumed but students must have a
good understanding of algebra.  If you have never had a course in
algebra at the high school level or above, you should consider taking
one before taking this course.