Sociology | Statistics for Sociology
S371 | 3692 | David James


S371 is a statistics course required for undergraduate majors in
Sociology.  It provides an introduction to statistical theories and
techniques appropriate for answering sociological questions through
the analysis of quantitative data.  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.

Descriptive and inferential statistics are covered in this course.
Descriptive statistics are used to describe or summarize sets of
numbers.  For example, if you wanted to know the grade point average
of a student at IU, you could add up the number of grade points that
the student earned for all courses and then divide by the total number
of credit hours earned.  The result is the student's average number of
grade points per credit hour earned (or grade point average).  Grade
point average is a descriptive statistic.

Inferential statistics are designed to test sociological theories
based upon samples of data when it is not possible or too expensive to
obtain all of the information needed from a population of interest.
Using a sample to estimate the proportion of voters who will vote for
a political candidate is an example of inferential statistics.  By
making good choices about who to interview, one can generalize to the
national level, for all 180 million adult Americans, from the
information obtained from only about 2500 people.  Inferences are
educated guesses and students will learn how to distinguish good from
bad guesses.  You will also learn the following: how to construct and
describe frequency distributions, how to calculate and interpret
measures of central tendency and dispersion, how to tabulate data, how
to measure the association between two variables and how to control
statistically for a third, the logic of statistical inference and
hypothesis testing, how to decide if tow groups of people are
different on some characteristic such as income, education, wealth,
age, occupation, skill, birth rates, death rates, or voting behavior
and how to estimate and interpret a linear regression model.

The course will focus on doing statistics.  Doing statistics will
require numerical computations, some by hand, some using hand
calculators or personal computers.  Nevertheless, I will de-emphasize
calculations per se, and concentrate instead on concepts and the
information conveyed by the numbers.

Attendance: Students must register for and attend one of the three
labs listed above.  Attendance in labs and classes is strongly
encouraged.  Some short in-class assignments will be collected and
will contribute to the course grade.  Make-up work for these in-class
assignments will not be permitted.

Required Text: I plan to use the new text by David S. Moore (The
Active Practice of Statistics.  W. H. Freeman, 1998) that makes
extensive use of an included CD-ROM.  The CD contains video and audio
presentations of statistics concepts and examples, problem sets, the
statistical analysis software DataDesk that can be used to solve
statistical problems, and other innovative features that provide
students with a variety of ways to learn and use statistics to solve
common problems.