Course: POL345/SOC305
Instructor: Marc Ratkovic
F 2018

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

This course is an introduction to statistical theory, reasoning, and argument in the social sciences. The three primary goals of the course include being a critical consumer of statistics, being able to implement statistical methods and interpreting your results, and being able to tailor the methods to your own research in the future. The course also provides an introduction to analyzing data through using R, a free statistical package.   The lectures meet twice a week (50 minutes) and there a precept once a week (80 minutes). During precept, you will learn the specifics of using R.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

Lectures: The professor uses slides that describes conceptual ideas and studies. In the past, the slides were shared on Campuswire, so there was no need to copy the notes word for word.  It is still imperative to attend lecture as often the professor will discuss concepts in more detail than what is presented on the slides which will be necessary for quizzes and problem sets.   Precept: Precept focuses on strengthening your skills with R. Every week you will receive a handout with some new features of R, and precept is the opportunity to go over these handouts along with learning some new tools. There is also time in precept to receive clarification on conceptual ideas that were presented during lecture.

Learning For and From Assignments

Problem Sets: There are three problem sets for this course. The problem sets include testing your knowledge on both conceptual ideas discussed in lecture along with your R skills you have been learning in precept. You often will have to apply the material that you have learned in a new challenging way. Discussion with other students is allowed but the actual code must be your own work. More office hours are offered during the week that the problem set is due, and there is also group and individual tutoring available at McGraw.   Quizzes: There are two quizzes for this course. The quizzes are designed to test your understanding of the concepts discussed in lecture. The professor hosts a large review session a few days before the quiz to review key concepts that could be on the quiz.

External Resources

McGraw: McGraw offers both individual and group tutoring throughout the semester. There are tutoring sessions for both POL 345 and also for general R programming help. Office Hours: Office hours are held by all the preceptors during different times throughout the week. Office hours are a great chance to ask questions about precept assignments and problem sets, and they also provide the opportunity to clarify course material presented in lecture. Review Sessions: There are three review sessions throughout the semester. The first is for the first quiz, the second is for the second quiz, and the third is for the final exam. The professor leads the review session by going over necessary material from lecture and answering questions, so make sure to come to the sessions with questions!

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

POL 345 is a challenging course which expects you to spend a considerable time outside of class to keep up with the material. That being said, most students in the course had little or no exposure to R and statistical theory prior to taking the class. If you have an interest in in politics, sociology, economics, or any other social science, POL 345 is a great statistics course to learn about the quantitative side of these fields, which will be helpful for junior paper and thesis work.
Introduction to Quantitative Social Science

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