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Quantitative methods

Syllabus for pre-PhD Distance learning course on Sociology

QUANTITATIVE METHODS IN SOCIAL RESEARCH

Maria Zaslavskaya, PhD, Associate Professor,
Yerevan State University, Distance Learning Laboratory

1. Course module description
The course presents and explains scientific research in social sciences, focusing on quantitative methods in sociology. This course is an introduction to the use of  the quantitative methods in social research. The purpose is to help student to completely carry out sociological research using quantitative methods, to do empirical statistical work, and to teach student how to use other empirical methods in the work. Social research is a collection of methods which are used systematically to produce knowledge on social reality. During this course module student will understand how research enterprise works, and to prepare and conduct small research projects. Also, a student will understand quantitative methods in social research, the role of the latter in knowledge production.

2. Objectives of the course module

2.1 The role of empirical reasoning in sociology.
2.2 Quantitative social science data collection.
2.3 Handling quantitative data (coding and etc).
2.4 Statistical analysis (sampling and inference).
2.5 Description of variables (distribution shapes, central tendencies, range and dispersions of single variable).
2.6 Assessment of relationships between variables (cross-tabulation, correlation, comparisons of summary statistics across groups).
2.7 Interpretation of research findings (samples and populations, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing).

3. Assessment
Since this is a distance-learning course, assessment will be based only on students’ written work.

  • Weekly written essays – 60%
  • Final essay-40%

4. Course module program

Class 1 The Nature of Social Research
- The research process.
- The stages of research process.
- Quantitative data collection techniques (experiments, surveys, content analysis).
- Quantitative research designs (concepts, variation and variables, types of variables, from a topic to a specific research question, the hypothesis and   causality, from the research question to hypotheses).

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 1:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Choose a topic of quantitative research which you would like to conduct.
  • Describe it according to research process steps.

Conducted research should include minimum 5 research questions and minimum of 3 hypotheses.

Class 2 Social Science Measurement
- Measurement and research design (conceptualization, operationalization).
- Reliability and validity (stability reliability, representative reliability, equivalence reliability, face validity, content validity, criterion validity, concurrent, predictive, construct validity, convergent, discriminant validity).
- Relationship between reliability and validity.

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 2:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Conceptualize, operationalize and measure all the variables according to topic of quantitative research earlier chosen by you.
  • Check all the types of reliability and validity of measures.

This task should include minimum 5 measurements.

Class 3 Index Construction and Scaling Methods
- Continuous and discrete variables.
- Four levels of measurement (precision and levels, distinguishing among the four levels).
- Specialized measure: scales and indexes (mutually exclusive and exhaustive attributes).
- Scales (logic of scaling). Index construction (weighting, rates and standardization).

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 3:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Determine the levels of measurements for all the variables which you presented in your research in the last task.
  • Define scales and construct indexes which are necessary for your research.

Class 4 Sampling and Sample Design
- Sampling.
- Populations, elements and sampling frame.
- Nonprobability sampling (haphazard, accidental, or convenience, quota, purposive or judgmental, snowball sampling).
- Probability sampling. Probability sample designs (systematic sampling, stratified sampling, cluster sampling).

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 4:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Define the sample design for your research, describe and calculate the sample size.

Class 5 Survey Research
- What is a survey?
- Survey conduction steps. 
- Elaboration of the questionnaire.
- Types of the questions (threatening versus nonthreatening questions, knowledge questions, skip or contingency questions, open vs closed questions).
- Questionnaire design issues (length of survey questionnaire, question order or sequence).
- Types of survey: advantages and disadvantages. Interviewing.

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 5:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Describe survey design for your research topic.
  • Elaborate the questionnaire and describe design.
  • Choose the type of a survey and carry out pilot research.

Class 6 Analyzing Quantitative Data: The Univariate Distribution
- Coding data.
- Entering data.
- Cleaning data.
- Frequency distributions.
- Use of graphs to describe distributions.
- Measures of central tendency.
- Measures of variation.

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 6:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Collect data for your previous survey.
  • Calculate the frequency distribution for your research variables.
  • Calculate the measures for central tendency and variation.

Class 7 Analyzing Quantitative Data: Bivariate Analysis
- A bivariate relationship.
- Bivariate tables (construction of percentage tables).
- Measures of association.

Readings:
1. Babbie E. The Practice of Social Research.
2. Bayley K. Methods of Social Research.
3. Frankfort-Nachmias Ch., Nachmias D. Research Methods in the Social Research.

Assignment 7:
Please, carry out the following tasks (up to 5 pages):

  • Conduct the bivariate analysis for previously collected data.

Class 8 Closing exam 
Conduct small scale research project using quantitative research methods (13-15 pages). 

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