This class is designed to make you an active participant in this new data rich world. The goal is to introduce you to the methods and practices by which we can use this data to answer questions that are important to us as political scientists and citizens.
What policies are most effective at reducing poverty? Which campaign ads are most effective at persuading voters? Can we affect the behavior of our Facebook friends just by sharing our opinions? Do domestic political institutions systematically impact currency markets, and how big is their effect?
The purpose of this class is to teach you how you can use data to answer these kinds of questions. This class will introduce you to the theoretical concepts you need to test claims about the political world and the practical sklls you will need to conduct statistical analyses.
Although students will certainly be expected to engage with mathematics, formulas, and data analysis, the goals of the class are primarily conceptual rather than narrowly mathematical. The course will focus on helping students to understand the core concepts behind statistical tests, understand their uses (and limitations), learn to apply them appropriately to substantive problems of interest, and learn how to communicate ﬁndings to others. In addition, a major components of the course include learning how to collect, manage, and analyze data using computer software, and how to effectively communicate results to others.
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
- Present data using graphics and descriptive statistics in a clear and informative manner
- Apply basic concepts from probability theory to social science research questions
- Describe the threats to making causal inferences from observational data and identify how they could change the conclusions of a study
- Make inferences about the distribution of populations based on a sample
- Correctly conduct and interpret hypothesis tests
- Understand linear regression in theory and practice (i.e., be able to read and interpret regression tables in academic articles)
- Independently gather, analyze, interpret, and present your own data
This class will reduce the number of traditional lectures as much as possible. Students will be provided with readings, videos, and other resources to learn the basic materials at home and at their own pace. Class time will then be dedicated to discussion, group work, and hands-on demonstrations.