Last updated: April 5, 2017


Introduction to Political Science

Methods of Political Research (POLS 210)

Ball State University

Spring 2017

Dr. Misa Nishikawa

Location: Sec1 NQ202, Sec2 NQ239

Office: NQ262

E-mail: mnishikawa@bsu.edu

Web: mnishikawa.iweb.bsu.edu

Office hours: TTh 10:00am-10:50am, W: 5:30-6:00pm, and by appointment 

GA: Amy Combs (E-mail: bacombs[at]bsu.edu, Location: NQ016, Office Hours: Th 3:30-4:30)  

 

Course Description

This course introduces students to statistics and the scientific study of politics. The objective of this course is to provide students the analytical tools to evaluate political behavior and concepts from a systematic and quantitative perspective. In particular, the course covers: 1. the basic strategy and procedures of scientific political research. 2. the use of computers in political research, and 3. the use of statistical techniques in political research.

 

This course provides the primary computer competency base for Political Science majors. Throughout the course, you will be involved in projects which require computer usage in one form or another. The greatest focus, however, will be on the use of computers to perform data analysis for the systematic testing of hypotheses.

 

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to;

conduct basic statistical analyses using statistical software.

analyze political phenomena at the multivariate level.

evaluate political claims critically.

appreciate the scientific approach in studying politics.

     

Required Texts and Reading:

1.      Philip Pollock. 2015. The Essentials of Political Analysis. 5th edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press

2.      Philip Pollock. 2015. An SPSS Companion to Political Analysis. 5th edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Pres

3.      SPSS software

Rental version (Recommended). Visit www.onthehub.com and purchase IBM® SPSS® Statistics GradPack Base for Windows or Mac (06-Mo Rental). (Visit www.onthehub.com, Click on "IBM SPSS Statistics 24." Click on "Buy Now." Choose "GradPack Base". Or visit the following web and find more options: http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/spss-stats-gradpack ) The software is also available in some of the computer labs on campus.   (If you like, you can try a trial version. Google "IBM SPSS Statistics Base.")  This software is necessary to open the datasets that are provided by An SPSS Companion to Political Analysis. Contact the Help Desk (285-1517) or SPSS for technical issues.                  

4.      USB flash memory, ilocker, etc.

5.      Supplementary reading in the form of additional handouts and Internet resources

 

Course Requirements

1. Exams

There will be four online exams. (You can drop one of the four exams.) The exams will be comprehensive and will be based on material covered during class in lectures or class discussions and from the required readings. Each exam is worth 16% of your grade. The combined exam portion of your grade will be worth 48% of your grade.

 

If you do not take the test by due date, your exam score will be downgraded. Ten points will be subtracted from your grade for each day. You are not allowed to take the test beyond three days from the due date. Make-up exams will not be given except in the case of extreme circumstances. The student must be able to provide documentation that the absence is unavoidable (e.g., illness, death in the family, observance of a religious holiday) and make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam dates.      

 

2. Assignments

Late work will be downgraded by 10 points each day it is late. The worksheets/assignments will not be accepted beyond three days from the due date. Poorly performing technology cannot be used as an excuse. Please do not send assignments using e-mail.

 

3. Paper assignment

You will be required to write a research paper for this class. Late work will be downgraded by 10 points each day it is late. No extensions will be granted. Ten points will be subtracted from your grade for each day that the paper is late. The paper will not be accepted beyond three days from the due date. Poorly performing technology cannot be used as an excuse. Please do not send your assignments using e-mail. This research paper is designed to give students the chance to work with an existing data set, and to develop and test hypotheses on some political issue. You are not required to collect your own data. You will be expected to identify the question you wish to test using SPSS, and write a report describing the nature of the hypothesis, mode of analysis, and substantive results. The paper will be completed in five phases.

1.      Research question

2.      Theory and testable hypotheses

3.      Variable list / operationalization

4.      Statistical analysis

5.      Conclusion and final product

 

5. Attendance

Attendance in this class is very important, and I will count it as a part of your grade. If you miss a class, get good notes from someone in the class. If you do not know anyone in the class, get to know some people in the class. 

 

Grades

The points are allocated in the following way: 

Exam 1, 2, and 3

42%

Assignments

15%

Attendance

10%

Paper Preps (Phase 1, 2, 3, 4a)

20% (5,5,5,5)

Final paper

13%

Total

100%

 

Grading Scale: For all items in this class for which grades are assigned, the following grading scale will be used: 

A

93.0%

A-

90.0%

B+

86.0%

B

83.0%

B-

80.0%

C+

76.0%

C

73.0%

C-

70.0%

D+

66.0%

D

63.0%

D-

60.0%

F

-59.9%

 

General Expectations

Participation in class discussions is strongly encouraged. Of course, participation should be constructive, and all comments should be relevant to the material being covered in class. Students must do all of the reading! Respect should be shown for all other class members at all times.

 

Students are expected to attend class, arrive promptly and have a collegial demeanor. Students are not allowed to sleep, read newspapers, use cell phones, listen to music, or talk to others during class. For the lab hours, students are expected to use only appropriate software, which typically does not include the internet or e-mail programs. Engaging in these behaviors will result in a drop in the student’s grade.   

 

Students will be responsible for knowing any changes made to the syllabus during class time whether they were in attendance or not. The instructor’s lecture notes are not available to students; it is the student’s responsibility to obtain class notes from a classmate, should class be missed. Students are also required to have a BSU e-mail account and access to Gradebook. 

 

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.

 

Academic Honesty:

Honesty, trust, and personal responsibility are fundamental attributes of the university community. Academic dishonesty by a student will not be tolerated, for it threatens the foundation of an institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. To maintain its credibility and reputation, and to equitably assign evaluations of scholastic and creative performance, Ball State University is committed to maintaining a climate that upholds and values the highest standards of academic integrity.

 

Learning Center:

The Learning Center offers free tutoring for all courses in the core curriculum, for a variety of math, economics, accounting, and physics courses, for any writing task, and for general study strategies such as time management, test taking, speed reading, and effective textbook reading and note taking. It also tutors for many courses outside of the core curriculum. Call 285-1006 or visit NQ 323 to make an appointment to meet with a tutor.

 

Schedule

 

Class

Date/Location

Topic

Reading

1

1/10 (Tue)

 

Class introduction

SPSS: Getting started, Introduction and Data Entry

Paper: Phase 1. Topic and introduction (Due later)

Essentials: Introduction

SPSS: Getting started, Ch1 

2

1/12 (Thu)

 

Lab

Assign 1. Prep Phase 1: Paper topic and bibliography

 

 

3

1/17 (Tue)

 

Measurement (Concepts, Reliability and Validity, Measurement error)

Levels of measurement

Essentials: Ch1 (pp6-22), Ch2 (pp26-31)

4

1/19 (Thu)

Lab

Phase 1 Due

Assign 2. Quiz using Blackboard (Due on the day we review for Exam 1)

5

1/24 (Tue)

 

From Explanation to Hypothesis

Paper: Phase 2. Theory and Hypothesis (Due later)

Essentials: Ch3 (pp48-58)

 

1/26 (Thu)

 

Lab

Assign 3a. Prep Phase 2: Four variables and hypotheses

Assign 3b. Prep Phase 2. Checking for missing cases

 

7

1/31 (Tue) 

Review Exam 1  

8

2/2 (Thu)

Exam 1(Single attempt)

 

9

2/7 (Tue) 

Logic of control, Sampling

SPSS: Recoding

 

10 

2/9 (Thu)

 

Lab

Phase 2 Due

Assign 4. Recoding

Essentials: Ch4 (78-90), Ch6 (Pp122-128) 

SPSS Recoding: Pp41-49

11

2/14 (Tue)

 

Frequency distribution and the measures of central tendency and dispersion

Paper: Phase 3. Operationalization (Due later)

Essentials: Ch2 (Pp32-44), Ch6 (Pp128-133)

12 

2/16 (Thu)

 

Lab

Assign 5. Phase 3 Prep

Assign 6. Descriptive Stats I (Standard Deviation)

SPSS: Ch2

13

2/21 (Tue)

 

Z scores

Paper: Phase 4a. Descriptive stats  (Due later)

Essentials: Ch 6 (Pp136-140, Table 6.3 SPSS: Ch3

14 

2/23 (Thu)

 

Lab

Phase 3 Due

Assign 7. Descriptive Stats II

 

15

2/28 (Tue)

 

Lab

Assign 8. Z score

Assign 9. Prep Phase 4a: Descriptive stats

 

16

3/2 (Thu) 

Review Exam 2

 

 

3/7 (Tue)

Spring Break

 

 

3/9 (Thu)

Spring Break

  

17

3/14 (Tue)

 

Exam2 (Single attempt)  

18

3/16 (Thu)

 

Bivariate and multivariate crosstab

Essentials: Ch3 (Pp58-61), Ch5 (Pp102-108)

19

3/21 (Tue)

 

Lab

Phase 4a Due

Assign 10. Crosstab

 

 

20

3/23(Thu)

 

Test of Statistical Significance (Chi square)

Essentials: Ch7 (Pp155-157, 164-169) SPSS: Ch7 (Chi-square) SPSS: Ch4 (Pp61-63) Ch5(Pp93-98)

21

3/28 (Tue)

 

Lecture: Lambda

Lab: Assign 11. Chi-square test Lab

 

22 

3/30 (Thu)

 

Measures of Association

 

SPSS: Measure of Association: Ch7 (Pp169-177)

23

4/4 (Tue)

 

Assign 12. Measures of association

 

 24

4/6(Thu)

Lecture: Correlation

Lab: Assign 13. Correlation

Essentials: Ch8 (Pp183-188: Correlation)

SPSS: Ch 8 (Correlation) 

25

4/11 (Tue) 

Lecture: Regression

Lab: Assign 14.  Regression

Essentials: Ch8 (Pp188-198) SPSS: Ch8 (Regression)

26

4/13 (Thu) 

Lab

Assignment 14. Regression (Continued)

Assignment 15. Prep Phase 4b

 

27

4/18(Tue) 

Review Exam 3

 

28

4/20 (Thu) 

Exam 3 (Single attempt)

 

29

4/25 (Tue) 

Lab Final Paper

 

30 

4/27 (Thu) 

Review Exam 4

Final Paper Due

 

31

Final Exam

5/2-5/5

Exam 4 (Single attempt)