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SOA 275 Social Statistics

Instructor: Dr. Wib Leonard
Textbook: Leonard, Wilbert M., II. (3rd or 4th eds.). Basic Social Statistics, Stipes.
Reader: Leonard, Wilbert M., II. (4th). Applications, Uses, and Abuses of Statistics.

SOA 275 Course Schedule

I. Lecture Format

Since it is only possible to cover a sampling of the statistical enterprise, I will devote the available time to the major “areas” within the field. The following topics will be discussed:

  • Introduction to Statistics
    • Theory, Measurement, and Mathematics
  • Descriptive Statistics
    • Frequency Distributions and their Graphic Representations
    • Measures of Central Tendency
    • Measures of Variation (Dispersion)
    • Normal Curve
    • Measures of Association (for Nominal, Ordinal, Interval-Ratio Data)
  • Inductive or Inferential Statistics
    • Point and Interval Estimation (Parameter estimation)
    • Hypothesis Testing (for Nominal, Ordinal, Interval-Ratio Data)

II. Purposes of the Course

This course is an introduction to behavioral statistics, designed primarily for social science students. As much as possible, we will emphasize “social” examples because most of you are concentrating in sociology, social work, criminology, pre-nursing, and the like. Since most social scientists–including me–are not mathematicians, the theoretical derivation of statistical formulae will not be dealt with; nor will statistical procedures requiring knowledge beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root extraction, and basic algebra. In short, the purposes of the course are to acquaint social science students with the logic of social statistics, the computation and interpretation of statistical methods, and their uses and abuses (what is sometimes called “statistical doublespeak”). A personal goal is to combat “innumeracy,” the mathematical counterpart of illiteracy; that is, I will help you in becoming “statistically literate.” Finally, because social science data are processed using the computer, you will also be introduced to the creation, management and statistical manipulation of data files using microcomputers (e.g., “pc’s”).

III. The Conduct of the Course

A series of lectures and a program of assigned readings teach the subject matter. The lectures do not necessarily duplicate the content of the readings; instead, they will serve to supplement, integrate, and clarify the printed material. Class participation is encouraged, particularly when there is question or confusion regarding either lectures or readings. Attendance is assumed.

You are strongly advised to read assigned materials before attending the lecture in order to derive the maximum benefit from the class period. To facilitate your understanding of statistical techniques you will be required to do several statistical problems. These exercises (called “problem sets” or practical exams) are expected to be completed and turned in by the due date (and will be graded and returned to you).

The “key” terms, concepts, etc., are italicized in your textbook; you should pay particular attention to them. Every discipline has standardized meanings for its basic ideas. The Glossary in the rear of the text should be of assistance to you. I include two sections at the end of each chapter: 1) “Important Concepts Discussed in This Chapter,” and 2) “Review Questions.” I suggest you “work through” these aids to help you in assessing how well you’ve grasped the chapter’s contents.

  • Examinations 
    • ​Examinations will cover all course materials including lectures, readings, motion pictures, classroom exercises, and visual aids. All examinations will be held in the regularly scheduled classroom. Dates for exams are indicated on the enclosed course outline (see last).
  • ​Type and Frequency of Examinations*
    • There will be four examinations, each containing two parts: 1) an outside-of-class practical exam and 2) an in-class evaluation. There will be no “pop quizzes” or other unscheduled examinations. Each of these exams will be made-up by the instructor.
  • Grading Policy
    •  Each exam item will have a “point value” attached and your cumulative point total will be used in determining your final letter grade for the course. Following each examination, you will be told the letter grade to which your score corresponds. However, letter grades are NOT cumulative–your final letter grade is determined by your total points. Borderline cases will be decided by the instructor based on demonstrated improvement, attendance, application, class participation, and interest. It is your responsibility to maintain a record of your points on each examination and keep a running total.
  • Make-Up Exams
    • You are responsible for being at all scheduled exams. In exceptional cases makeup exams will be given once, at the mutual convenience of the instructor and students. To be eligible for a makeup exam, you must have reported your absence and the reason to the instructor. You are responsible for contacting the instructor before (ideally) or immediately after missing the examination to make the necessary arrangement. Unless absolutely necessary, you are discouraged from taking makeup exams, since they are frequently more difficult and may be oral, essay and/or objective in nature.

*Approximately 1/3 of your grade comes from the outside-of-class exam and about 2/3’s from the in-class evaluation.

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