Wanda Martina Morris
A critical introduction to the methods used to collect data in social science: surveys, archival research, experiments, and participant observation. Evaluates "facts and findings" by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the methods that produce them. Case based. Offered: jointly with CS&SS 320/SOC 320.
You will learn how to evaluate the quality of information that is used to support claims about social issues. We do this by learning where social science data come from, focusing on the four basic methods used to collect data: archival research, participant observation, sample surveys, and experimental studies. We will examine each of these by taking an in-depth look at a case study, using the case to develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses that are inherent in the method. The fundamental theme of the course is that data are not just facts that fall from the sky, they are produced. Each research method has a distinctive logic and procedure for producing data, and understanding the basic features of this production process provides surprisingly powerful tools for evaluating research findings. We do not cover statistical techniques for estimation and inference in the course (see C321 and C322), but the techniques we do cover are equally important for evaluating the social science evidence routinely presented in the media, on the web, and in research journals.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
3 lectures / 2 quiz sections per week
Class assignments and grading
Reading case studies, internet information search and critique,short writing assignments, 2 5-10 page papers, occasional quizzes
50% written assignments, 30% quizzes, 20% participation in quiz sections