Introduction to Social Science Data Analysis Using SPSS

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Data Analysis, Social Causation, Exercise
For this assignment you will perform an analysis of survey data collected from California State University students called, "Opinions and Behavioral Characteristics of College Students." You will do the computer analysis by following the steps in the Tutorial: Introduction to SPSS and Data Analysis. If your instructor expects a formal report, follow the outline steps in Basic Research Procedure listed below. Your write up should have a section for each step of the Research Procedure.

I. Take the CSURVY94 survey to become familiar with the questions. While taking the survey think about possible topics (potential bases for hypothesis). You will then state your topic as a hypothesis and test the hypothesis through analysis of survey data on CSU students in 1994. For some basics on analysis of your data look at Statistics Intro.
    My example: I am interested in primary group norms for males and females. What are the norms and how do they differ between men and women, how have they changed. The example in the SPSS tutorial is a guide to one way we could find information on this topic using a survey of students to test an hypothesis about this topic.
II. Using the "Basic Research Procedure" listed below, write up a research topic, review the literature to develop a theoretical perspective, specify a hypothesis, perform analysis and write up your project. You will perform the following:
    Based on your general knowledge and knowledge from this course (Introductory Sociology, Social Stratification, Critical Thinking, etc.) pick from the "Opinions and Behavioral Characteristics of College Students" an independent variable and a dependent variable** you think might be related. You may examine more than two variables if you wish, but only two are required for this assignment.



Basic Research Procedure: Follow the steps below in this exercise and in your write up. My example (from the SPSS tutorial) is listed in italics.
Note: For clarity we are limiting this example to two variables.

  1. Select a topic: State your topic in terms of the variables you chose. State the topic (your research problem) in a clear, understandable manner.
    My topic is traditionally voiced primary group norms for males and females.
  2. Review the literature: Do this with readily available sources: your text, class notes, current news reports you read in the paper, books or journal articles. Introductory texts in Economics, Sociology or Political Science are good sources for information on your topic. [You should cite your sources. Cite sources using an acceptable professional formatting style.] Summarize agreements and disagreements in available resources. Try and reach conclusions about what further research should be done.
    For my topic I would look up and cite sources on opinions and studies about the treatment of men and women and how these have changed. I would point out that while there has been much change in formal and legal aspects of treatment of men and women, it is still not true that women are treated as equals, so discovering the current differences in treatment are important. Of particular importance is the differences in the way males and females are treated in primary group relationships and by parents, relatives, friends, etc.
  3. Formulate the problem: Define the problem in terms of a specific hypothesis testable with data from the student survey. A hypothesis is an educated guess, a proposed relationship of cause (the independent variable) and effect (the dependent variable). Carefully and completely identify independent, dependent and possibly other variables that are important and explain why in terms of your expectations derived from number 2 (this is your research hypothesis).
    1. State your hypothesis

        Are males or females more likely to receive financial support from relatives or friends.

    2. State the dependent and independent variables (the causes and effects, it is the relationship you are examining.

        For my example, gender is independent and financial support is dependent.

    3. What reasons do you have for believing the variables are related.

      1. Summarize "2" with sources for your hypothesis. Your text, news articles, etc.

          Men are expected to receive....

      2. Be sure and explain your logic for believing there is a relationship.

          This relationship is seen as...

  4. Create a research design: Since the study has been done, you are performing "secondary research." Simply state the method (survey) and sampling procedure (these are specified in the survey) and measurement instrument (specific questions you used to test your hypothesis) specified on the first page from the CSURVY94

    1. What method was used?

        Secondary research of survey data

    2. What sampling procedure was used? Be sure to specify the population and sample (these are specified in the survey)
        Representative students from five CSU campuses in spring 1994...

    3. What were the questions you used from the survey (repeat the exact wording from CSURVY94).

        (2) GENDER

        1. Male
        2. Female

        (10) HOW MUCH FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR COLLEGE ARE YOU RECEIVING FROM PARENTS, RELATIVES OR FRIENDS--AS A PERCENTAGE OF ALL COLLEGE COSTS?

        1. none
        2. 25% or less
        3. 26-50%
        4. 51-75%
        5. more than 75%

  5. Collect data: The data are already collected so all you will need to do is report when the data were collected. Go to the computer lab and run the tables (use the step by step computer tutorial Tutorial: Introduction to SPSS and Data Analysis and use your variables in place of mine).

  6. Interpreting and analyzing data: Examine your table and write up what it shows (supports your hypothesis, rejects your hypothesis, inconclusive, etc. and why). We will discuss how to read a table in class.

    1. Explain your table - description of individual variable distributions and relationship between variables. Don't worry about statistics except for those we discuss in class; just look at the table and tell me what the distribution shows.

    2. State whether the table supports or rejects your hypothesis. If the answer is no, it does not support your hypothesis, offer a reason as to why not.

    3. Make suggestions as to further research on this topic (e.g., restatement of question, different sample or population, other questions [specify] etc.).

  7. Publishing findings: Write up as a formal paper. Your paper must be typed, tables should be cut from printed output and pasted to the appropriate page location in your paper. Your write-up should be carefully organized around the steps listed above and care should be taken to be clear and unambiguous to your audience. The last page of your paper should be a bibliography following an acceptable professional formatting style. Your audience is students who are notin this class. You should be able to have a friend read your paper and be able to explain what you did. Be able to give a verbal summary of your efforts on this assignment if asked.


Possible Grading Criteria:
Your annotations should be well written (typed with your name, date and assignment number at the top), grammatical, complete, free of spelling errors. You will be graded down for papers that look like first drafts. Organize carefully and clearly, proof before submitting. Remember, your audience is someone like yourself who is not taking this class. The reader should be able to read, understand and apply the ideas used in your paper.

(1) Typed professional quality of your paper -- your name, class, date and assignment number should be at the top right of your paper. Proper referencing (APA, MLA, etc.), identifying the sources, should be included at the end of your paper if needed.

(2) Precise use of concepts. The concepts you use should be used correctly; be certain that you understand them.

(3) Subtlety or profundity of the annotation. This is a rather more subjective criterion. It identifies the difference between acceptable and accurate work on the one hand, and, on the other, really interesting work. In other words, the difference between "C" or "B" work and "A" work.

**Independent variable and dependent variable; the independent variable is the cause. The dependent variable is that which is affected by the cause. For example, heat under a pot of water is the independent variable while the changing temperature of the water is the dependent variable, the effect.