Syllabus

Introductory statistics is intended to improve both abstract intellectual competence and one's practical ability to assess and participate in the major social issues of our society. As sociologists often rely on quantitative data to test and revise theory, a solid grounding in statistics has become essential to participating in the sociological enterprise. Moreover, in an era characterized as "the information age," one cannot intelligently digest the daily news or fully participate in our democratic society without understanding statistical reasoning or the use of statistical analyses to inform public policy debates.

You will learn of some of the statistical tools used by social researchers. We will focus on the interpretation of data rather than calculations. We will discuss contemporary usage of these tools and some of the key issues confronting working social scientists. The goal is a better understanding of data analysis in social research.

By the end of the semester, you will be able to:

  1. Contrast descriptive and inferential statistics;
  2. Compute various descriptive and inferential statistics, and interpret the results;
  3. Assess sociological arguments in terms of research results; and,
  4. Interpret empirical evidence from sociological research articles.

About the course:

  1. Class meetings will be a mixture of lecture presentation and hands-on activities.
  2. Be prepared to participate in discussions. You should complete the assigned readings prior to the class meeting in which they will be discussed. Take notes on the readings: ask questions about what is unclear; make connections to other points of knowledge.
  3. Be prepared to participate in group exercises. The best way to learn is to teach, and we will often engage in exercises that require you to explain material to each other.
  4. Be prepared to interact through the course web site. This will allow us to extend the course beyond the class meetings.
  5. Out of respect for your classmates, you should refrain from disruptive activities, such as talking in class during the lecture, sleeping, arriving late or leaving early, etc. Please do not bring your cellular phone to class, or turn it off during the class meeting. You will be marked as absent on a given day for persistent infractions.
  6. Attendance is required. Every unexcused absence will result in a two point deduction. If you must miss a meeting, you are required to fill out the absence form. (Fill out the form in advance if the absence is planned. Otherwise, complete the form as soon as possible after the meeting you missed.) If I do not receive a completed form, the absence will be counted as unexcused.

Grading will consist of four assignments and participation. The assignments will involve short essay questions about the class presentations, data analysis, and readings. The fourth assignment is the final exam, which will cover the material for the entire semester. The first assignment is worth up to 15 points; the second, third and fourth assignments are worth up to 20 points. Participation in class and on the course site is worth up to 25 points.

Grades will be assigned according to the following scale: 100-95 = A, 94-90 = A-, 89-87 = B+, 86-82 = B, 81-80 = B-, 79-76 = C+, and, 75-70 = C. The minimum passing score is 70.

Consult the Brooklyn College Bulletin and the university policy [PDF] for regulations regarding academic integrity. If you submit work for credit that is not your own, you will receive a zero on that assignment. Academic dishonesty is grounds for failure in the course. Additional penalties may result, at the discretion of the college.