** **

**Preliminary
Remarks. ** Students
entering college are typically
imbued with the American philosophy
of individualism: They
see their successes and failures, as
well as the successes and failures
of others, as solely caused by
individual decisions and personal
effort. Although this is a good
philosophy to encourage hard work
and success, and no one would deny
its truth, it is misleading. The
directions we go in life, our
successes, our failures, our
actions, and our thoughts--all of
these--are intimately connected with
forces larger than the individual. The
social sciences introduce these
larger forces to the student and
attempt to show their relevancy to
all aspects of his or her life. Among
these “larger forces” are social
structure, culture, the group, and
institutions such as the family,
education, the polity, and the
economy.

** **

** **

**Course Overview and Goals.
**This
course
presents the three most common systematic
strategies used to gather, analyze,
and interpret social science data --
surveys, experiments, and field
research (including participant
observation). The course emphasizes
survey research and offers practical
research experience for social
science students on the art, logic,
and science of establishing
causality in nonexperimental
situations (using what is called in
the technical literature,
“observational data”). To
this end, students learn how to use
SPSS software, as well as the art of
data interpretation through the
write-ups of findings. Successful
completion of this course allows
the student to read the literature
in his or her field of
specialization (the basics of good
empirical research are the same
across disciplines—especially in
the behavioral and social
sciences). An
SOC400 student acquires enough
knowledge and experience to be
able to conduct
practical research in his or her
own field.
More specifically, by the
end of this course, the student
should be able to:

1. understand
and be able to use in his or her own
writing and projects the vocabulary
of social research— including *variable, independent
variable, dependent variable,
intervening variable, control
variable, control group,
experimental group *(test group)*,
randomization, covariation,
functional form, measurement *(including
levels of measurement)*, reliability, validity,
scaling, causality, interaction,
multivariable effects,
spuriousness, double blind,
Hawthorne effect, random sample,
survey design, experimental
design, measures of central
tendency, measures of dispersion,
Verstehen*, *participant-observation,
triangulation,
*and *meta*-*analysis*;

2. understand
survey design and construction; this
includes the ability to: (a)
distinguish random samples from
nonrandom samples, (b) construct
survey items that can measure the
intensity of attitudes and
behaviors, and (c) assess the
validity and reliability of these
items;

3.
use a quantitative
data-analysis package (SPSS) to
analyze survey, census, and
experimental data; the student will
be able to (a) do a one-variable
analysis (and have an intuitive
grasp of measures of dispersion,
measures of variations, and the
graphical devices one can use to
display these); and (b) uncover and
interpret the associations that
exist between and among variables
via crosstabulation analysis (and
understanding the nuts-and-bolts of
crosstabulation analysis will help
students develop an intuitive grasp
of more complex survey analysis
techniques, including correlation,
anova, and regression);

4. apply the
universal principles of “causal
analysis” in analyses of
quantitative data and in the
interpretations of qualitative data;
these principles are developed by
way of crosstabular analysis;

5. recognize the major
ethical issues involved in the
conduct of social research,
especially as reflected in the
notions of *informed
consent*, the *Hawthorne
effect*, g*oing native*, *double-blind
study*, and *how
to lie with statistics.*

More
generally, the SOC400 course
fulfills the following broad educational
goals of the Sociology program at
Bryant— #3: an understanding
of sociological methods, both
quantitative and qualitative; and
#4: the ability to apply
sociological insights to the
understanding or solution of complex
problems. The course is especially
directed at meeting the specific
learning objectives of #3, as the
final take-home exam allows a
student to
demonstrate an ability to connect
sociological theory with
sociological research to investigate
a research question; and an ability to
use appropriate data analysis
techniques, including statistical
analyses and the graphical display
of data.

The
concepts involved in a research
methods course tend to be quite
abstract and difficult to appreciate,
even after have been introduced to
them in other courses (including both
lower- and upper-division courses in
the social sciences). As
such, they need to be approached from
more than one angle. In
this course, these approaches
emphasize *readings*,
*lectures*,
*discussions*,
and actually “*doing*”
research.

**Reading
and Computing.** Our
primary text is the most recent
edition of Earl Babbie, et al., *Adventures
in Social Research* (currently
the 9th edition: Pine Forge Press,
Sage Publications, 2015; ISBN 978-1-4833-5958-8
[pbk]). This text promotes the
learning of research methods via the
extensive use of SPSS, a statistical
analysis program that is a key
feature of SOC400. The highest level
of analysis to be developed in this
book is multiple regression, and
complex multivariate procedures such
as structural equation models,
factor analyses, and
canonical-correlation analyses are
not included.

The Babbie text is
supplemented by selected handouts
throughout the semester, including
on index construction and selected
statistical procedures, including
constructing and interpreting Gamma.

**Class
Time **is divided
between lectures, focused
discussions, and participation in
exercises that will help you to
better understand the logic of
research. You are expected to take
notes (some lecture areas are *not*
covered in the book and other
readings) and to actively
participate in discussions and
exercises. Discussions are often
focused around a set of weekly
“review questions” based on the
assigned readings for that week.
Attendance is mandatory!

**Study
Partners.
**Very early in
the semester you should find a
“study partner.” Your lab
assignments will be turned in as
two-person projects (you and your
study partner). On rare occasions, I
allow 3 individuals to form a
study-partner team, but never more
than 3. Your study partner will
serve as a valuable resource in
better understanding the lectures
and lab assignments.

** **

**Grades**
are based on the following:

1.
*An in-class final test*. During
our regularly scheduled final
examination slot, you will be given
a cumulative objective test on your
lecture notes (consistent attendance
and good note-taking are premiums in
this course!) and the Babbie et al.
text.

2.
*A take-home final exam*. Approximately
two and a half weeks before the end
of the semester you will be given a
take-home exam in which you will
have to demonstrate your
understanding of causal analysis and
selected other topics we develop
during the semester and how SPSS can
assist you in such analysis.

3. *Lab Assignments*. You will be
assigned a selection of computer
exercises from *Adventures
in
Social Research*. The
exercises
are an essential component of our
class discussions; they also form
the foundation for your ability to
do the take-home exam. As these
exercises are intended to help you
prepare for this exam, their real
importance will be reflected then.
However, to keep everyone honest, I
will grade several of the lab
assignments at random. Graded
assignments are temporarily returned
and discussed in detail in class;
nongraded assignments are typically
not returned, but their contents are
incorporated into the lectures and
class discussions. Ideally,
the
lab work represents the last line
in the Confucian homily:

I
hear and I forget

I
see and I remember

I do and I
understand

I keep all exams and
graded lab assignments on file for
60 days after the end of the
semester, after which they are
discarded.

4. *Class
participation and attendance*. Part of
“class participation” is doing the
lab assignments, showing up with
them in class on time, and being
able to discuss them. Most
weeks, you are also assigned to
prepare for the next class by
answering a set of review questions
on your reading. As
part of your participation in this
class, you are responsible for
reading your Bryant
e-mail on a regular basis; if you
use another e-mail server (e.g.,
Facebook’s), please be sure that you
set up your Bryant e-mail account to
forward to the e-mail account that
you prefer using. It
is not uncommon for me to send the
class general informational e-mails
on upcoming examinations and on
other matters as well. We
occasionally use Blackboard to
distribute readings or supplementary
information on assignments (e.g. for
the take-exam), but otherwise
Blackboard is *not*
used (e.g., for giving primary
assignments or notifications to the
class).

**Weights
for each of the above are as
follows:**

Take-Home Exam:
50%
of your final grade

Final Test:
10%
“
“

Lab Assignments:
40%
“
“

I
only look to class participation and
attendance if your total number of
points at the end of the semester
puts you on the borderline between
two grades (say a “B” versus a
“B+”).

*Please
let me know if you have a physical
condition or learning disability
that may impact your academic
activities in this class.*

***********************************************

**Reading****
and Computing Assignments for the
Semester**

Begin
block “I” at the first week of the
semester; when I say we will start
“Block II” (or whichever block) the
next class session, I expect you to
begin--and finish in a timely
manner--the appropriate block of
assigned readings. Of
great importance is to have your
computer lab assignments ready to
turn in on the day I say they are
due. SPSS assignments are usually
given out on a weekly basis.

*Please note that the
Babbie book is imperfect (there
actually is no “perfect” textbook)
and there are several mistakes it
makes—from typos to selected
aspects of its presentation of
attitude scales. Early in the
semester I will point out such
mistakes to you, and by the end of
the semester, you should be able
to point them out yourself.*

__Reading
Block__**
**__Babbie et al.__
__Topics__

**I**
Chapter 1
**Shaping
a
Research Problem**

**--Types
of Variables**

**
--Hypotheses**

**
--Models**

** **

**
Qualitative vs. Quantitative
Research**

**
--Ethics**

**
--Hawthorne Effect**

**
--The Persuasiveness and**

**
Foundation of the
Experimental**

**
Method**

**
--Meta-analyses**

**II**
Chapter 2
**Measurement**

**
--Theoretical
vs. Empirical**

**
Variables**

** **

**
**--**Level of Measurement**

--**Multiple Indicators**

**III**
Chapter
3
**Random
Samples**

**
--Surveys**

**
--the GSS**

**IV**
Chapters 4--9
“**Getting
a Feel” for your Data Set:**

**
One-Variable (Univariate)
Analyses**

**
(with SPSS)**

** **

**
--Numeric Summaries**

**
--Graphic Summaries**

**
--Weighting Variables**

** **

**
--Cleaning Up and Preparing
Variables**

**
for
Use
in Hypothesis & Model Testing**

**
--Combining Values**

**
--Creating Indices**

** **

**V**
Chapters 10--12
**Testing
Simple Hypotheses**

**
**Chapter
13
(pp. 217--228)**
--Bivariate
Crosstabulations**

**
**Chapter
15
**
--Percentage-Difference
& ***Epsilon*

Handout (*Primer
on
***Correlation
& Scatterplots**

*
Elementary Data Analysis*,**
--Pearson r vs. Gamma**

pp. 9--16)**
Comparison of Means**

Handout (*Gamma*) **
--t-tests**

**
Tests of Significance**

**
--Chi-Square**

**VI**
Handout (*Primer
on
*
**Causal
Analysis**

*
Elementary
Data
Analysis*,
**--Spuriosity
/ Nonspuriosity**

*
* pp.
16--28)**
--Multivariable Effects**

**
--Interaction Effects**

**
--Intervening-Variable
Models**

**
Crosstabulation using
partial tables**

** **

** **

# Distribute
Take-Home Final Examination

(*Circa*
2 weks before scheduled final test)

# In-class
Final Test

(As
formally scheduled)