SPEA-K 300 Statistical Techniques (3 cr

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There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.

~ Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister

POLS 332 Statistics and Data Analysis

University of Southern Indiana, Department of Political Science


Spring 2014

|Class Time: T/Th 10:30-11:45 |Office: 3rd Floor Liberal Arts Building |

|Instructor: Trent Engbers, Ph.D. |Mailbox: LA 3062 |

|E-mail: taengbers@usi.edu |Classroom: LA 1008 |

|Phone: 468-2240 (Home) |Phone: 465-1130 (Office) |

|Office Hours: T/Th 12:00-1:30 Lab Hours: M 10-11, 12-1; T 9-10:30, 12-1:30 |

|W 10-11, 12-1; Th 9-10:30, 12-1:30 |

|I am of the tradition that office hours are an antiquated concept. My preference would be to be more widely available to you. Please feel free to reach out at any|

|time to schedule a meeting. My goal is to be very flexible in making myself available to you. |

Course Description:

An examination of statistical techniques and data analysis in political science. Specific techniques will include descriptive statistics, model specification, measures of correlation, point estimation, construction of confidence intervals, parametric and non-parametric hypothesis testing, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and regression analysis. one political science course or consent of instructor; political science major or minor; completion of core curriculum math requirement.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, have sufficient understanding of statistics to be able to:

• Use descriptive statistics to describe political phenomena

• Conduct the following statistical tests on political data: correlation, chi squared, t-test, ANOVA, and regression analysis

• Use statistical software for the purpose of manipulating and analyzing data

• Interpret the implications of statistical findings.

• Read a scholarly article and answer questions about the statistical findings

Prerequisites: One political science course or consent of instructor; political science major or minor; completion of core curriculum math requirement.

Required Texts/ Materials:

1. Schutt, R. K. (2011). Investigating the social world: The process and practice of research. Sage Publications, Incorporated. (For reference in research design).

2. Sirkin, R. M. (Ed.). (2006). Statistics for the social sciences. Sage

3. Additional readings as assigned


I encourage you to use blackboard to share and collaborate with your classmates. I will use it to post required readings not found in the textbook. I will also use the grade book function to communicate with you some but not all of your grades. Class announcements will also be distributed through blackboard. All assignments should be submitted to me in hardcopy and questions should be directed to me through phone (preferred) or e-mail.


I encourage you to take time during the first class to gather the names and phone numbers of at least two of you classmates and write them below. If you miss class, this should be your first step in catching up. Though I am happy to sit down with you and reteach the information AFTER you have received notes from a classmate.

Class Policies:

1. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated. These infractions found in the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. If I determine that you have violated the universities standards of academic honesty. Your name will be forwarded on to the Provosts Office and you will receive a 0 on the assignment with no opportunity to redo it. Copying without citation any portion of your work from other students work, the internet, or textbooks and the use of electronic devices for storing information to be used in a dishonest way are particularly serious offenses. This does not preclude you from working with others to discuss your projects and course material. Two common problems include:

*Working together (which is encouraged) and submitting answers with identical or near identical answers (which is cheating) & Coping from the internet without citation.

2. Laptops and Electronic Devices: In Spring 2010, The Department of Political Science and Public Administration passed a classroom ban on laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices. All electronic devices must be turned off and stowed in your backpack or briefcase at the start of class, unless approved for a scheduled class activity. In exceptional circumstances, you may leave your cell phone set to “vibrate” during class. However, you must clear this with your instructor prior to the beginning of class. There are few things that I found ruder than ringing cell phones. If you cell phone rings during class, you will be asked to leave for the remainder of class, you risk the loss of participation points and you will insight my ire. For significant portions of this class, we will be meeting in a computer lab. During these class sessions, please use the computer for class related work only.

3. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade per business day (10%) unless given PRIOR approval by the instructor for extenuating circumstances.

4. Attendance is not required but highly encouraged. Labs are due at the end of class. If you will not be in class, you must make plans to turn your labs and other assignments in prior to the start of class. This may be difficult since we won’t have previously covered the material.

5. There will be no incomplete grades except under extraordinary circumstances with the appropriate documentation, in accordance with the University of Southern Indiana Academic Handbook.

6. Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance: If you have a disability, you are encouraged to register for disability support services in the Counseling Center. If you require an accommodation, please advise the instructor by the end of the first week of class. You may be required to provide written documentation to support these accommodations. The instructor will work with you to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that you have a fair opportunity to perform and participate in class.

7. Course Evaluations: Course evaluations are an integral part of the teaching and learning process.  At the University of Southern Indiana, course evaluations are used for many purposes.  These purposes include curriculum and assignment review, course structure changes, changes in instructional delivery as well as the university’s evaluation of, and continuous improvement efforts for, faculty and faculty development initiatives.  Please complete the course evaluations for this course with care, thought and attention toward the improvement of the class, the faculty and the university community overall.

8. Grades posted on blackboard are not the official records of your grades, but can be used to confirm that the grade that I hand back to you matches the grade in my personal grade book. Please save all assignments in case there is a discrepancy.

9. This syllabus is our contract and will only be changed with explicit consent of the majority of students.

Assignments/ Grading:

Course grades will be assigned based upon the following distribution:

|Assignment |Points |

|Class Labs (7x50) |350 |

|Homework: Statistics Basics |50 |

|Homework: Chi Squared |100 |

|Homework: Difference of Means |100 |

|Homework: Regression |100 |

|Research project and presentations |300 |

|TOTAL |1000 |

| | |

Class Labs

At least nine times throughout the semester, we will meet in the computer lab. I will not lecture during these sessions but rather will give you free time to use the computers to apply the principles of statistics to real life data with my guidance. This time is some of the most important that we will spend together as the manipulation and analysis of data is something that is best learned through application. As such, these sessions will require you to be present to complete the assignments. You will receive a grade for each lab out of 50 points. Your top 7 labs will count toward your final grade. You are advised to seek help with problems you are having with the topics prior to the labs as you will have limited time to see guidance during these sessions.


You will have 4 out of class homework assignments over the course of the semester. While the purpose of the labs is to help you learn and will be graded somewhat leniently, these assignments are designed to push to excel and thus will have much higher expectations. The first assignment is largely objective and will ask that you demonstrate objective knowledge about key facts. You must do this assignment by yourself without help from your classmates. The next three homework assignments are as much art as science and will enable you to use real life data to analyze public policy problems. As such, while there are right and wrong answers, these homework assignments require creativity, struggle, and exploration of data. While no two students can turn in the homework, you are welcome to consult and work alongside your classmates to find the “best” answers.

Research Project and Presentation

This is a research project that will bring together what you learned in 331 and 332. You will choose a topic of interest to you and test it using data from this class or approved by the instructor. You will write up the results into a medium length research paper. This project has two portions: a research paper and a very short class presentation to be presented during the final exam period. The paper will include an introduction and brief literature review with clearly defined hypotheses. You will also need to study the data set utilized to describe the process of sample selection, survey methodology, and operationalization of variables. Finally you will use SPSS to analyze the data and report the findings.

Extra Credit Research Journal

One of the goals of this class is to get you to think like a researcher. As such I am offering an extra credit assignment that can boost your final grade by up to 3%. Keep a journal of interesting research questions (some but not all of which should be politically science related). This should be an ongoing project (not all written at the end of the semester) and as such, I reserve the right to collect your journal at any time. Please carry it with you. Examples in my journal include: “do I-pods lead to an erosion of social skills” or “does race moderate the effect of gun tragedies on political opinions.” This should be fun. Observe the world around you and write about what you see. This can be a list and doesn’t have to be paragraphs. The goal is just to get you to think. Your grade will be based on quantity and quality of questions. Be sure to date questions based on when you think of them.

|Day |Date |Topic |Reading Due |Assignment Due |

|Tuesday |January 14 |Introduction to the class |Chapter 1 (optional) | |

|Thursday |January 16 |Types of Quantitative Data |Chapter 2 | |

|Tuesday |January 21 |Describing Data: Central Tendency |Chapter 4 | |

|Thursday |January 23 |Describing Data: Position and |Chapter 5 | |

| | |Variation/ Statistics vs | | |

| | |substantive significance | | |

|Tuesday |January 28 |Lab: Describing Data and Making | |Lab 1 |

| | |Tables | | |

|Thursday |January 30 |Clean Data and Making Indexes | |Statistic Basics Homework |

|Tuesday |February 4 |Lab: recoding and syntax | |Lab 2 |

|Thursday |February 6 |Chi Squared | Chapter 7 and 12 | |

|Tuesday |February 11 |Lab: Chi Squared | |Lab 3 |

|Thursday |February 13 |The normal distribution |Chapter 8 | |

|Tuesday |February 18 |Confidence Intervals | |Chi Squared Homework |

|Thursday |February 20 |Lab: Confidence Intervals | |Lab 4 |

|Tuesday |February 25 |T-test |Chapter 9 | |

|Thursday |February 27 |ARNOVA |Chapter 10 | |

|Tuesday |March 4 |Lab: Difference of Means Test | |Lab 5 |

|Thursday |March 6 |Correlation/Kendal’s Tau |Bluman Chapter 10; | |

| | | |Davis, Mark H., Jennifer A. Hall, and Marnee Myer. 2003. “The | |

| | | |First Year: Influences on the Satisfaction, Involvement, and | |

| | | |Persistence of New Community Volunteers.” Personality and Social | |

| | | |Psychology Bulletin, 29: 248-260. (Bring to class) | |

|Tuesday |March 11 |Spring Break |No Class | |

|Thursday |March 13 |Spring Break |No Class | |

|Tuesday |March 18 |Lab: Descriptions of relationship | |Lab 6 |

| | | | |Difference of Means |

| | | | |Homework |

|Thursday |March 20 |Choosing the right test | | |

|Tuesday |March 25 |Causation in Statistics | | |

|Thursday |March 27 |Partial Tables |Chapter 6 | |

|Tuesday |April 1 |Lab: Partial Tables | |Lab 7 |

|Thursday |April 3 |Assessment Day |No Class | |

|Tuesday |April 8 |Bivariate Regression |To be announced | |

|Thursday |April 10 |Multivariate Regression |Chapter 14; | |

| | | |Wilson, John, and Marc Musick. 1997. “Who Cares? Towards an | |

| | | |Integrated Theory of Volunteer Work.” American Sociological Review| |

| | | |62(5), 694-713. (Bring to Class) | |

|Tuesday |April 15 |Lab: Regression | |Lab 8 |

|Thursday |April 17 |Dummy Variables and Nominal |Wilcox and Nock, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” (Bring to Class)| |

| | |Variables in Regression | | |

|Tuesday |April 22 |Lab: Regression 2 | |Lab 9 |

|Thursday |April 24 |Limited Dependent Variables | |Regression Homework |

|Tuesday |April 29 |Lab: Work on Final Projects – Non| |Research Paper |

| | |Graded/ Catch up | | |

|  | May 1 |Final Exam Period | |Research Presentation |

Questions to ask:

Which number do I read?

When do I read it?

What does it tell me?

How do I describe it in words?

How do I communicate it in a table?


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