Sociology | Statistics for Sociology
S371 | 20318 | James
ABOVE SECTION OPEN TO MAJORS ONLY
Can students win some of David James' hard-earned money while
attending class and learn some probability stuff too? How can you
calculate your chances of survival had you been a passenger on the
Titanic? When is the best time to watch the geyser OLD FAITHFULL
erupt at Yellowstone National Park? How much can you learn from the
typical CNN "man in the street interview?" Who will win the next
election? Do tall men tend to marry tall women? What does a grade
point average tell you about a person?
If you would like to learn the answers to these and other interesting
questions, then this is the class for you! If you prefer to read a
rather standard description of this course, please read on.
Instructor: David R. James
Office: 811 Ballantine (855-5943)
Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
S371 is a statistics course required for undergraduate majors in
Sociology that also satisfies the COAS Math requirement. 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. Grade point average, for example, is a descriptive statistic.
Inferential statistics are designed to test sociological theories
based upon samples of data when it too expensive or impossible 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 298 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 two 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 scheduled for the course. Attendance in labs and classes is
Required Text: I will use a multimedia statistics program called
ACTIVSTATS that costs about $50. No other texts are required.
Calculators: You will need a calculator that will add, subtract,
multiply, divide, and take square roots. It will be helpful if it
also has a memory register for storing intermediate computations. You
can use the calculator for homework and exams if you wish.
Examinations and Grading Policy: Course grades will be based an
in-class mid-term exam, satisfactory completion of a series of problem
assignments and a final exam. The exams count 40% of the course grade
and the homework assignments will count 60%.
This class will make extensive use of email and the web. Grades will
be posted on the web using Oncourse system.
Thanks for reading. You will have more fun than you believe possible
in a statistics course.