Sociology | Statistics for Sociology
S371 | 20314 | Bartley
ABOVE SECTION RESERVED FOR MAJORS ONLY
This course is designed to develop your quantitative analytic skills
by teaching you how to understand, apply, and interpret basic
statistical principles. The course is organized in two main parts.
The first part covers descriptive statistics and deals with
techniques for organizing and summarizing data in a sample. We will
start by developing tools for describing a single variable-that is,
some aspect of the social world that varies from case to case or over
time. We will then start looking at relationships between two
variables, in order to understand how one part of the social world
shapes, influences, or causes another.
The second part of the course covers inferential statistics--that is,
a set of methods for using data from a sample to determine the unknown
characteristics of populations. The goal here is to figure out how we
can make claims about an entire population based on observing only a
small part of that population (a sample). Once we develop the tools
for making inferences, we will use those to extend the material from
the first part of the course, in order to make sense of large-scale
social outcomes and their possible causes.
In addition to covering the logic of statistics and developing your
skills at interpreting quantitative data, this course will provide you
with practical experience working with SPSS (Statistical Package for
the Social Sciences). This computer program is used in a variety of
academic, business, and non-profit settings, and the skills you
develop at processing and interpreting data with SPSS may prove highly
useful further down the line.
I assume no prior knowledge of statistics and the course is not
particularly math-intensive. Instead, the course emphasizes the logic
of describing variation, making comparisons, moving from samples to
populations, and developing substantive interpretations of
quantitative analyses. However, we will work with a number of simple
formulas and graphical techniques, so a solid understanding of algebra
is absolutely necessary.