Dr. Mario Guerrero
Office Phone: (909) 869-3885
Meeting Time: TuTh 8:00 – 9:20AM; TuTh 9:30 – 10:30AM
Classroom & Lab Location: Building 5, Room 122
Office Hours: TuTh 10:30AM – 12:30PM and by appointment
Office Location: 94-316
What is this course about?
This course is an introduction to research in political science. Political science is one of the many disciplines found in the broader academic area of social science. As social scientists, professors in the discipline are expected to act as researchers, developing their own area of expertise within one of the many subfields of political science. Like the hard sciences, social science researchers approach their work using the scientific method. This approach is quite different than the advocacy approach that politicians, interest groups, and citizens use when making policy-related appeals to government. Examining political phenomena entails an appreciation of how questions are asked, clearly answering questions, and drawing inferences using research methodology.
Using a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach, this course is intended to give you the tools and training to undertake research in political science. At the completion of the course, you will have the knowledge of how to complete your own original research project. In addition, this course will give students a fundamental appreciation of the academic work assigned as readings in other political science classes. You should be able to read and understand advanced political science research and critically assess the weaknesses and drawbacks of the approaches that scholars choose to take in their respective studies. A significant portion of this class is also dedicated to statistical analysis using SPSS, a user-friendly computer program that is similar to Microsoft Excel.
This course is fundamentally different than any other class you will take in the department. The skills you develop in this course are important for understanding the academic discipline, but these skills are becoming increasingly important in order to work effectively in various professions: government, policy, legal, business, or journalistic. At the culmination of this course, you will be asked to present an effective argument, drawing on library research skills to analyze quantitative data. One of the most important goals of good social science research is communicating the results of your work clearly and professionally to colleagues, policymakers, and citizens. This class will give you the opportunity to further develop these skills and has been described as both challenging and demanding. Nonetheless, given the importance of these objectives, we hope this will be a rewarding experience.
What books do we need?
Salkind, N.J. 2017. Statistics for People (Who Think) They Hate Statistics. 6th Edition. Sage Publications.
The Bronco Bookstore lists the textbook for $93.75 new and $35.00 for a used rental. Amazon.com has cheaper prices than this. Please make sure to use the 6th or 5th edition of the book, as the other editions of the textbook are outdated. If you use an earlier edition of the textbook, you are responsible for the differences between editions.
10% Class Conduct: Students are expected to be present, on time, and actively engage in classroom activities. Each lecture counts as a point. You lose 1/2 point for tardiness. Absences and tardiness will not be excused under any circumstances. In addition, students are expected to behave in a respectful and courteous manner while interacting with each other and the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to penalize this portion of the grade for any inappropriate behavior.
25% Quizzes and Activities: This component of your grade is split between two different types of assignments: five unannounced in-class quizzes and in-class activities. Quizzes will be based on both recent lectures and assigned reading. Quizzes are independent and closed notes. Activities will be based on the topic under discussion in lecture. Activities will be group-based and open notes. Quizzes and activities will be graded in five sets, each worth 5 percentage points each. For each 5-point set, the proportion of each for your grade is based on your performance on the quizzes:
|Individual Quiz Score||Quiz Percentage||Activity Percentage|
|60% and below||0||100|
30% Practicums: Two practicums, in-class exams using SPSS, will test your application of the various techniques, tools, and comprehension of the program. The first practicum is on Tuesday, April 17. The second practicum is on Thursday, May 17.
35% Paper: The paper (10-12 pages) is an original research paper, where you will ask and answer your own question using data analysis. The paper is due on Thursday, May 31.
Grade Appeals. The period for grade appeals begins 24 hours after an assignment is handed back. The grade appeal must be made within a week of receiving the grade. The appeal must be written and made during office hours.
Please note the following schedule is subject to change throughout the quarter. The readings listed are required before each lecture.
Week 1 (3/26-3/30): Introduction to Research Methods.
Tuesday, March 27. Course Introduction. What is political science? What is research methods? What will be expected of me?
Key Terms: political science, statistics, missing numbers, confusing numbers, authoritative numbers, scary numbers, data, qualitative, quantitative, inferential statistics, research methods
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 1
Lohr, S. 2008. “For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics.” New York Times, 5 August.
Thursday, March 30. Scientific Research. What do academic researchers do? What is the scientific method? What are good research questions? How do you develop hypotheses? What are independent variables? What are dependent variables?
Key Terms: science, scientific method, question, hypothesis, testing, analysis, criteria for good research questions, criteria for good hypotheses, theory, directional hypothesis, nondirectional hypothesis, null hypothesis, variables, independent variable, dependent variable, intervening variable, extraneous variable
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 7
Activity 1, Part A: (PDF)
Week 2 (4/2-4/6): Quantifying Political Phenomena.
Tuesday, April 3. Concepts and Measurement. What is causality? What is the difference between a concept and its measurement?
Key Terms: causality, conditions for casuality, correlation, causal mechanism, endogeneity, spurious variable, operationalization, concept, measurement, levels (or scales) of measurement, nominal variables, ordinal variables, categorical variables, interval variables, ratio variables, continuous variables, dichotomous/binary variables, reliability, test-retest reliability, validity, face validity
SPSS Tools: Variable view, data view
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 6
Lean, G. 2008. “Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby.” The Independent, 18 May.
Activity 1, Part B: (PDF)
Class data: (XLSX)
Thursday, April 5. Descriptive Statistics. How do researchers describe the data that they are working with? What’s the difference between mean, median, and mode? What about standard deviation and variance?
Key Terms: descriptive statistics, central tendency, variability, outlier, mean, median, mode, frequency distributions, range, standard deviation, variance
SPSS Tools: Descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, range, variance, n), histograms, bar graphs
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 2
Salkind, Chapter 3
Salkind, Chapter 4
Activity 2, Part A: (PDF)
Activity #1 Due: Thursday, April 5
Week 3 (4/9-4/13): Understanding Statistical Inference.
Tuesday, April 10. Statistical Inference. What is statistical significance and what does it have to do with probability? What are z-scores and how do we calculate them?
Key Terms: probability, frequency curves, the normal curve, peak, tails, characteristics of normal curve, 68-95-99 rule, z-scores, statistical significance
SPSS Tools: Z-scores
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 8
Salkind, pp. 177-196
Activity 2, Part B: (PDF)
Coin Toss: (XLSX)
Thursday, April 12. Midterm Review
Key Terms: None
Readings: Salkind, pp. 188-195
Salkind, Chapter 10
Activity #2 Due: Thursday, April 12
Week 4 (4/16-4/20): Practicum Week.
Practicum #1. Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Thursday, April 19. Research Design I. Surveys, content analysis, data analysis, experimental research. How do we set up research design? How do we work with data?
Key Terms: Research design, quantitative methodology, qualitative methodology, small-n, large-n, internal validity, external validity, content analysis, survey research, mailed questionnaires, telephone questionnaires, response rates, measurement error, question wording, question ordering, open-ended questions, close-ended questions, experiments, treatment groups, control groups, natural or quasi-experiments
Readings: Guerrero, M. 2017. “The Guide to Methodology.” Senior Thesis Guide.
Activity 3, Part A: (PDF)
Class Survey: (XLSX)
Live Data: (SAV)
Week 5 (4/23-4/27): Research Design.
Tuesday, April 24. Research Design II. Case studies, interviews, fieldwork, theoretical arguments. What is sampling?
Key Terms: Probability sampling, non-probability sampling, single random sample, cluster sample, stratified sample, purposive sample, convenience sample, quota sample, snowball sample, case studies, most-similar design, most-different design, quantitative case analysis, single case study, interviews, fieldwork, theoretical research
Readings: Keiger, D. 2007. “The Number.” Johns Hopkins Magazine, February.
Activity 3, Part B: (PDF)
Thursday, April 26. T-Tests. How do we determine if there are differences between two groups of individuals? How do we calculate a t-test?
Key Terms: T-tests, Independent Samples, one-tailed tests, two-tailed tests, degrees of freedom
SPSS Tools: T-test for Independent Samples, Recoding
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 11
Salkind, Chapter 12
Activity 3, Part C: (PDF)
Week 6 (4/30-5/4): Statistical Analysis: ANOVAs & Chi-square.
Tuesday, May 1. ANOVAs. How do we test the differences between multiple groups of individuals? How do we calculate ANOVAs?
Key Terms: Significance values, one-way ANOVA, F-statistic
SPSS Tools: One-way ANOVA
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 13
Salkind, Chapter 14
Activity 4, Part A: (PDF)
Activity #3 Due: Tuesday, May 1
Thursday, May 3. Chi-square. What does a chi-square test determine? How do we calculate chi-square? When is chi-square appropriate to use?
Key Terms: One-Sample Chi-square, observed value, expected value, Bivariate chi-square
SPSS Tools: One-Sample Chi-square, Crosstab, Bivariate chi-square
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 17
Activity 4, Part B: (PDF)
Week 7 (5/7-5/11): Statistical Analysis: Correlations & Regression.
Tuesday, May 8. Correlations. What is a correlation coefficient? What is the difference between correlation and causation?
Key Terms: Scatterplot, Direct Correlations, Indirect Correlations, Perfect Correlations, Pearson Coefficient
SPSS Tools: Scatterplot, Pearson Correlation
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 5
Salkind, Chapter 15
Activity 5, Part A: (PDF)
Activity #4 Due: Tuesday, May 8
Thursday, May 10. Regression. What is a regression? Why is a regression particularly powerful in statistics?
Key Terms: Regression, best line of fit, error in prediction, slope, y-intercept, constant, goodness of fit, r-square, multiple regression, control variables
SPSS Tools: Regression
Readings: Salkind, Chapter 16
Activity 5, Part B: (PDF)
Week 8 (5/14/5-18): Practicum Week.
Tuesday, May 15. Review. What have we learned in the class thus far? How should we prepare for the exam?
Practicum #2. Thursday, May 17, 2018.
- Study Guide (PDF)
Week 9 (5/21-5/25): Open Lab Days.
Tuesday, May 22. Catch-up & Open Lab Day.
Thursday, May 24. Catch-up & Open Lab Day.
Week 10 (5/28-6/1): Course Conclusion & Final Paper.
Tuesday, May 29. Catch-up & Open Lab Day.
Thursday, May 31. Course Conclusion: Why research methods?
Activity #5 Due: Thursday, May 31