**POLS 340: Undergraduate Research Methods**

*Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00-12:15*

Dusable 170 and DuSable 406

Fall 2006

**Dr. Matt Streb**

**Office: **Zulauf 412

**E-MAIL: mstreb@niu.edu**

**Office Hours: **Tuesday and Thursday,

“Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary a qualification

for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.”

--*H.G. Wells*

**Course
Description: **The world of politics
offers a nearly infinite array of interesting questions. Why did George W. Bush win the 2004
presidential election? Is

The first half of this course introduces students to social science research by discussing how one develops a research question and hypotheses. The second part of the course provides students with the tools necessary to test hypotheses systematically and quantitatively. This does mean that you will learn some basic statistics. Many students get ill when they find out that they are required to take a quantitative methods course to graduate (I was one of them!), but learning data analysis can be extremely beneficial to you in the future and even fun.

You probably won’t believe this now, but a course on quantitative methods can benefit every student in different ways. While still in school, the course will help you in other courses by making it easier to understand political science research and leading you to ask important questions about that research. In addition, a basic knowledge of statistics also makes students more attractive to potential employers in a wide-range of fields. This course will also help those of you who are headed to a graduate program in social science by providing you with a background in the tools necessary to excel in that program. We don’t require the course to punish you; we require it because it is important and useful. Who knows? You might shock yourself by deciding you want to take another statistics class! I certainly never imagined when I walked in to my first methods class that I would end up teaching it for a living!

**Grading:**

Your grade will be based on the following components:

*30% Take Home Assignments*-- Each assignment is worth 6% of your final grade. I will drop your lowest score, however your lowest score will only be dropped if you hand in all six of your assignments. In other words, if you don’t hand in an assignment, each assignment then counts 5% of your final grade and none can be dropped.

*30% Midterm*

*30% Final Exam*--The final will not be cumulative. It will only cover material discussed after the Midterm.

*10% Participation*

The reading load for this course is light. On the other hand, you will be expected to
complete six take home assignments during the semester. These assignments will require a fair amount
of work, so procrastination is not encouraged.
Read the assignment when you receive it and be sure to leave yourself
plenty of time to complete it. An
assignment is considered to be late if it is not turned in at the beginning of
class on the day it is due. **I do not accept late assignments! If the assignment is not handed in on time,
you will receive a 0 for that assignment.**

Several of these assignments will require you to use the statistical program SPSS. We will work through several SPSS exercises in class together and then you will be required to do some assignments outside of class. When we use SPSS, we will meet in DuSable 170; otherwise we will meet in DuSable 406.

The two in-class examinations will be held on **Tuesday, October 17 ^{th} **and

Finally, participation will constitute 10% of your final
grade. I have no formal attendance
policy, but I will take attendance in class and your participation grade will
depend on how frequently you attend and how much you participate
(constructively) in class discussion. **Do not take your participation grade for
granted! **

**Grading Scale:**

93%-100% A 90%-92.9% A- 87.5%-89.9% B+

83%-87.4% B 80%-82.9% B- 77.5%-79.9% C+

73%-77.4% C 70%-72.9% C- 67.5%-69.9% D+

63%-67.4% D 60%-62.9% D- Less than 60% F

In rare instances, I will raise a final grade slightly if
the student regularly attends class, participates, and shows progress.

Required Course Materials:

Three books are required for this course:

Johnson, Janet
Buttolph, and H.T. Reynolds.
2005. *Political Science Research *

*Methods*,
5^{th} ed.

Pollock III, Philip H. 2005. *An SPSS Companion to Political Analysis*,
2^{nd} ed.

Rochefort, David A. 2006. *Quantitative Methods in Practice: *PS.

These books are available at the NIU bookstore. Students are strongly encouraged to visit sites such as www.campusi.com to find cheaper, used versions of these books (although students should not buy earlier editions of the books as they have been updated substantially. Also, if you buy the Pollock book online you must be sure that the CD is included with it).

You may have also noticed that a fee was required to take
this course. That fee allows you access
to the SOCQRL Computer Lab in DuSable 222.
You will be able to do your assignments in the SOCQRL Lab and have
trained tutors available to help you.
The lab is open Monday-Thursday from

**Course Policies:**

1. *Attendance:
*Simply put, you are expected to be here. If you want to have any hope of passing the
class or doing well, you will need to be in class. I have yet to meet a person who has regularly
missed my class and has passed the course.

2. *Be** on time: *Class begins
promptly at

3. *Turn the cell phones off!: *My policy is that if your cell phone goes
off in class, I’m the one who answers it.
Unless you want me talking to your parents, siblings, or
boyfriend/girlfriend, turn the cell phones off.
If you have an extenuating circumstance (e.g., pregnant spouse, day
care, etc., please let me know).

4. *Makeup Exams: *I will only give a makeup examination
under extraordinary circumstances. If
such circumstances arise, please contact me as soon as possible and *before* the scheduled exam. If you fail to contact me before the
scheduled exam, you will receive a 0 for the exam. Students may be asked to support requests for
makeup exams with documentation.

5. *Late Assignments: *I do not accept late assignments. If you fail to hand in one of your
assignments on time, you will receive a 0 for the assignment. If an extraordinary situation arises that will
keep you from handing in your assignment on time, please contact me as soon as
possible and *before* the scheduled
assignment is due. Being out of town
does not constitute an “extraordinary situation.”

6. *Academic Dishonesty: *In preparing for your work and meeting
the requirements of this course, you are expected to adhere to all the rules,
regulations, and standards set forth by the Department of Political Science,

7. *Students with Disabilities: *Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons
with documented disabilities. Those
students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and
for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for
Access-Ability Resources (CARR) on the fourth floor of the

**How Can I Do Well in
this Course?:**

** **This class will be different
from previous political science courses you have had. Because it is different, students sometimes
struggle with the material. Therefore,
it is *imperative *that you attend
class and keep up with the readings. If
you get behind, you will find that it is extremely difficult to catch up. Also, students are **strongly encouraged** to ask questions during lectures or visit me
during my office hours. Don’t be
shy. If you don’t understand something,
I guarantee someone else in the class doesn’t understand it as well.

**Course Outline: **

*NOTE: *

*NOTE: I reserve the right to change the
syllabus. *

T August 29^{th} Introduction
to the Course

R August 31^{st} **NO CLASS. APSA Conference**

T September 5^{th} Studying
Politics Scientifically (JR, chps 1-2)

R September 7^{th} Creating a Research Question and
Developing Your Hypotheses

(JR, chps 4-5; J-stor
reading)

T September 12^{th} Measuring
Variables (JR, chp 6; R, chp 9)

R September 14^{th}
Measuring
Variables, cont.

T September 19^{th} Implementing the Research Design (JR, chp 3;
R, chp 8)

R September
21^{st} Implementing the
Research Design, cont.

T September 26^{th} Collecting Data: Making Empirical Observations and Elite

Interviewing (JR,
chp 7 and pp. 270-275; R, chp 5)

**ASSIGNMENT #1 DUE**

R September 28^{th} Collecting
Data: Document Analysis (JR, chp 8)

T October 3^{rd} Collecting Data: Survey Research (JR, pp. 275-304; R, chp 1)

R October 5^{th} Collecting Data: Survey Research, cont.

T October 10^{th} Sampling (JR, chp 9; R, chp 19)

R October 12^{th} Midterm Review

**T October 17 ^{th} MIDTERM EXAM**

R October 19^{th} Introduction
to SPSS/Making Comparisons (P, “Getting Started,”

chps 1, 3; R, 13; JR,
pp. 305-321, 339-350)

T October 24^{th} Transforming
Variables in SPSS (P, chp 4)

R October 26^{th} Making Controlled Comparisons (P, chp
5; R, chp 12)

**ASSIGNMENT
#2 DUE**

T October 31^{st} Univariate
Statistics/Descriptive Statistics (P, chp 2; R, chp

18; JR, 321-371)

R November 2^{nd} Making Inferences about Sample Means (P,
chp 6)

**ASSIGNMENT
#3 DUE**

T November 7^{th} * *Chi-Square
and Measures of Association (P, chp 7)

R November 9^{th}
Chi-Square
and Measures of Association, cont.

T November 14^{th} Bivariate Regression (P, chp 8; JR, pp
372-402)

**ASSIGNMENT
#4 DUE**

R November
16^{th} Bivariate
Regression, cont.

T November 21^{st} Multiple Regression (JR, pp. 403-428; R,
chp 15)

**ASSIGNMENT
#5 DUE**

**R November 23 ^{rd} NO CLASS. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!**

T November
28^{th} Multiple
Regression, cont.

R November 30^{th} Dummy Variables and Interaction Effects
(P, chp 9; R, chp 16)

T December 5^{th} Practice Final Exam

**ASSIGNMENT
#6 DUE**

R December 7^{th} Review for Final Exam

**T December 12 ^{th} FINAL EXAM ( 10 AM)**