Asa integrating data 2 19-2014 with cites


Published on

Presentation for the American Sociological Association's Department Affiliates Webinar Series. Discussion of using quantitative data in courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum, including why it's a good practice, how it can be done, and where one can find resources that make it easier.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • “‘Statistical literacy, quantitative literacy, numeracy – under the hood, it is what do we want people to be able to do: Read tables and graphs and understand English statements that have numbers in them. That’s a good start,’ said Milo Schield, a professor of statistics at Augsburg College and a vice president of the National Numeracy Network. Shield was dismayed to find that, in a survey of his new students, 44 percent could not read a simple 100 percent row table and about a quarter could not accurately interpret a scatter plot of adult heights and weights.”Chandler, Michael Alison. What is Quantitative Literacy?, Washington Post, Feb. 5, 2009Critical for a democratic society (Steen 2001)Informed citizenry – must be able to make sense of information coming from multiple sources.Use of evidence in making decisions and evaluating arguments.
  • Students get information from everywhere from “traditional” sources to blog posts to tweets, etc. Using data within the QL context introduces students to the need to ask questions about the conclusions they hear or read and the data upon which those conclusions are based. Understanding where data come from and thinking about credibility of the source(s) is critical to using the evidence from those data in making informed decisions.
  • Quiz is on the Association of Religion Data Archives’ Website and accompanies a brief story describing health-related findings from a couple of different studies.
  • I’ve tried to organize the sources in the following slides into these categories (roughly)… Additionally, each resource is hyperlinked out to the actual site. The pie chart and table on the slide come from the Association of Religion Data Archives ( –one wouldn’t expect to find information about belief in extraterrestrials on a religion site, but it (and lots of other interesting topics – there is a quiz about spirituality and pets, etc.) is there.
  • The first three sites are useful for pulling graphic displays of data or letting students create maps interactively. is more for professional development in that it talks about things like how to animate data from an Excel sheet into a Powerpoint presentation and other types of data display, in case instructors find data they want to use in a graphical form.Some parts of Social Explorer require a membership, but there is quite a bit you can get to for free. CensusScope is based on Census and American Community Survey data and shows maps/graphs based on small subsets of variables.
  • GapMinder is great for demonstrating global changes over time in things like population size and wealth distribution. Survival curve is an interactive exercise that shows the chance of death before one’s next birthday based on a variety of demographic characteristics. It’s good for the lecture on demography in Intro courses or for demography seminars. $1 Trillion Video is a short (1:17) video in which large numbers are made “tangible” by showing the differences in stacks of money from $100 to $1 trillion. It is good when talking current events, health policy, or inequality (rather than just a way of thinking of numerical scale in general).
  • Worldometers and USA Right Now are fun sites that give facts related to government, demography, and things related to social environment and culture, broadly defined. They are a great way to get students to start thinking about the world around them “by the numbers” and also serves to give them context for large numbers. Population Pyramids is a good site for teaching international demography or demographic trends. FactFinder is most helpful for finding information at the nation, state, and sometimes county or city level. An easy exercise would be to give students the results for the U.S. overall and have them look up something more personal (city, state) to compare. I think this new FactFinder site is more “user friendly” than the previous version – much more conducive to instructors quickly grabbing a number, table, or map for a lesson.
  • These sites are all good for getting information related to current events or political issues. Roper Center has some materials that are freely available, but some portions of their site require a membership. They are the “go to” place for things like ABC/CBS/Washington Post news polls – they get them much more quickly than ICPSR does, for example. The Pew site is fantastic – there is information in a variety of forms from “quick facts” to longer reports (good for professional development or for use as evidence in student papers) to actual data to analyze. Their topic coverage is very broad as well…
  •’s Data in the News feature is updated with approximately 2-3 new stories per week and those stories are pulled from sites and reports that are credible (e.g., not from sources with a particular political bent) and occasionally there is an example of data being used so badly that we just can’t leave it alone. If we post about something like that, though, we always say why one should be leery of the presentation, what questions should be asked, etc. Data360 includes all kinds of fun things as well as the more typical data-based reports. For example, there is a map of the US that shows the use of the words “pop,” “soda,” and “Coke” by region… a great introduction to cultural influences (i.e., is it a surprise that “Coke” is the word most used in the southeast when Coke’s headquarters are in Atlanta?). This screen shot shows the wealth distribution for a variety of countries. Graphic Detail is globally focused, the stories center around economic issues and their antecedents/consequences. Even though most have an economic bent, many stories are applicable for sociology as well – recently, for example, there was a story about international marriage and divorce rates (2/14) and how Lego has gone from a tiny company to the second-largest toymaker in the world, largely by embracing cultural trends (2/13).FiveThirtyEight (from About the Blog): FiveThirtyEight’s mission is to help New York Times readers cut through the clutter of an increasingly data-rich world. The blog, founded by Nate Silver in 2008, is devoted to rigorous, data-driven analysis of politics, polling, public affairs, sports, economics, science and culture. FiveThirtyEight also offers forecasts of upcoming presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections, using proprietary statistical – by geographers. Maps of all kinds of things including “Beer Belly of America,” “Church, bowling, guns, and strip clubs,” and “Domain names by geography.” Seems to be updated a little less frequently than the other blogs.
  • Each of these has a variety of resources, including lesson plans and/or pre-made exercises using data. ASA’s Trails requires an annual subscription and contains all kinds of helpful materials, data-based and otherwise.ARDA has a great collection of learning activities that include “compare yourself” quizzes, map-based activities, and other activities based on the religion surveys they archive.ICPSR’s Data-Driven Learning Guides are self-contained exercises on a variety of topics ranging from attitudes about the environment to family relationships, to political behaviors in China. SERC is aimed primarily at university faculty, primarily for professional development but also includes example exercises with extensive data about the context of their use. SSDAN is the umbrella for a number of sites including CensusScope and DataCounts! – all are based on Census data including the American Community Survey.
  • The Statistics Learning Centre is definitely geared toward students, but can be an entertaining way to brush up on some of the basic (and not-so-basic) concepts and analysis techniques.This is by no means an exhaustive list – these are just some examples I have collected and/or others told me were useful.
  • As is the case when trying to add something “after the fact,” I can’t remember exactly what studies I mentioned in the live Webinar. These articles are ones I tend to use pretty regularly, so I’m hoping this will help whomever wanted the citations. This is definitely not an exhaustive list – if anyone wants more, please contact me individually.
  • Asa integrating data 2 19-2014 with cites

    1. 1. Integrating Data Analysis into the Undergraduate Curriculum (aka Making Sociology Real) American Sociological Association Webinar January 19, 2014 Lynette Hoelter
    2. 2. Presentation Outline: • • • • • • Gathering a bit of data What is data? Why use data? When should I use data? How can I use data? Where can I find data and tools?
    3. 3. A Quick Poll What is the average class size for your department? A. B. C. D. Small – under 25 students Medium – 25 to 50 students Large – 51 to 100 students Massive – over 100 students
    4. 4. Which statement best describes your relationship to quantitative data? A. I try to keep my distance from data as much as possible (not very comfortable). B. We have a civil relationship, but you wouldn’t likely catch us hanging out at the coffee shop (somewhat comfortable). C. Data and I are the best of friends (very comfortable). D. I wake up in the morning excited about data and all the cool ways I can manipulate, I mean use, it that day (extremely comfortable).
    5. 5. Thinking about the students in your classes, would you say they… A. B. C. D. E. panic at the sight of a number across the street (not at all comfortable) can tolerate numbers about the same way they tolerate Brussels sprouts (not very comfortable) are willing to put their toes in the data pool and maybe even go into the water (somewhat comfortable) have caught the “data bug” and spend your class period dreaming about new questions to answer with data (very comfortable) will be the next Pearson or Tukey developing new statistical tests (extremely comfortable)
    6. 6. Taking a step back: What do we mean by “data”? • Definitions differ by context, all are valuable for sociology. For example: – Newspaper articles, blogs, Twitter feeds, commercials – Transcripts of an in-depth interview or observation notes – Information from medical tests, experiments, and other scientific exercises • For this presentation, “data” refers to summary information presented numerically in graphs, charts, or tables and the underlying survey results or administrative records. – Some of the suggestions here also take advantage of “metadata” or data about the data.
    7. 7. Why use data throughout the curriculum? • Applies sociology to “real life” • Builds quantitative literacy in a non-threatening context • Active learning makes content more memorable • Repeated practice with quantitative information builds confidence and deeper learning; knowledge/skill transfer between courses • Demonstrates how social scientists work
    8. 8. Quantitative Literacy • Skills learned and used within a context – Reading and interpreting tables or graphs and to calculating percentages and the like – Working within a scientific model (variables, hypotheses, etc.) – Understanding and critically evaluating numbers presented in everyday lives – Evaluating arguments based on data – Knowing what kinds of data might be useful in answering particular questions
    9. 9. Importance of QL • Availability of information requires ability to make sense of information coming from multiple sources • Use of evidence is critical in making decisions and evaluating arguments: e.g., risks related to disease or treatment, political behaviors, financial matters, costs/benefits of buying a hybrid • Understanding information is prerequisite for fully participating in a democratic society • Employers value these skills!!
    10. 10. “…practices are clearly seen by employers as having potential for improving the quality of college learning. . . . The top practice they endorse is research. Employers believe that students who are challenged to ‘develop research questions in their fields’ and who can conduct “evidence-based analysis’ will be well positioned to succeed in the workplace.” (AAC&U 2013:10) Skills most highly valued include: critical thinking, communicate clearly, and complex problem solving..
    11. 11. When to Include Data ALL the time!!!!! Don’t save it for methods/stats classes…
    12. 12. No Need to “Revamp” Entire Course • Make course/learning objectives clear to students – One or more of these objectives can relate to quantitative data: • Provide a context in which students can improve their writing, speaking, and critical thinking abilities. • Students will learn to create and interpret a crosstabulation table. • Students will gain an understanding of the application of the scientific method to the study of social behavior, including the use of evidence to test hypotheses. • Cover the same substantive content, drop in data-based experiences as appropriate
    13. 13. Example: Begin Class with Data • Rather than jumping directly into lecture, provide a “daily fact.” – Present a statistic, graph, or chart from recent news media and ask students to interpret what it says and whether it is accurately portrayed in the media. – All can be accomplished in about 5 minutes and serves to get students’ focus shifted from whatever happened just before class. – Students will often begin bringing in items of their own.
    14. 14. • Does the chart/graph/map accurately describe the data? • From where do the data come? • What point does the author make? • Is it valid? Source:
    15. 15. Example: Emphasizing Content
    16. 16. Other ideas for including data: • Require empirical evidence to support claims in essays • Use data with online analysis tools for simple analysis assignments • Question banks and exercises allow students to work with surveys and the resulting data • Have students collect data – even in-class polls! • Engage students by having them find maps, graphs, or other data that provide examples of course content Any others?? Any questions so far??
    17. 17. Using Data without Using Data • How does religion relate to health behaviors? There’s a quiz for that!
    18. 18. How can I operationalize “life satisfaction”? How satisfied are people overall? (Depends whom you ask!)
    19. 19. Finding the Data • • • • • Visualizations Interesting statistics Public opinion Quantitative news blogs Pre-made exercises, pedagogical examples • Collections of resources
    20. 20. Visualization Examples • • • • Social Explorer CensusScope Visualizing Economics Storytellingwithdata
    21. 21. Visualizing Data Using Animations • Gapminder • Survival Curve • $1 Trillion Video
    22. 22. Relevant Statistics • Worldometers ( • USA Right Now ( • Population Pyramids of the World ( • US Census (
    23. 23. Public Opinion Data • Roper Center for Public Opinion Research • Gallup: • NORC reports & data: • Pew Research Center: – Fact Tank, Reports, Datasets, Interactives
    24. 24. Quantitative News Blogs • – Data in the News • U.S. Census Newsroom • Data360 • The Economist: Graphic Detail Blog • Pew Research Center: Fact Tank • USA Today Snapshots • FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver) • From Data360
    25. 25. Collections of Resources • ASA TRAILS • Association of Religion Data Archives Learning Center • ICPSR: Resources for Instructors – Data-driven Learning Guides (Short Exercises) • Science Education Resource Center (Carleton College – pedagogical materials) • Social Science Data Analysis Network •
    26. 26. Data can be FUN! Detecting funky data displays can be even more fun!
    27. 27. Sites for “Brushing Up” on Statistics • Consortium for Advancement of Undergraduate Statistical Education (CAUSE) • Khan Academy Probability and Statistics • Statistics Learning Centre • UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education: Data Analysis Examples • UK Data Services Support/How to Guides • Understanding Statistics through Dance found on the British Psychological Society’s YouTube Channel
    28. 28. Some helpful citations… • Ganter, S. L. 2006. Issues, Politics, and Activities in the Movement for Quantitative Literacy. Pp. 11-15 in Current Practices in Quantitative Literacy, R. Gillman (ed). Washington, DC: Math Assoc of America. • Grawe, Nathan D. and Rutz, Carol A. (2009). Integration with Writing Programs: A Strategy for Quantitative Reasoning Program Development. Numeracy: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 2. DOI: • Schield, Milo. (2010) Assessing Statistical Literacy: Take CARE. Ch 11 in Assessment Methods in Statistical Education, pp. 133-152. Wiley. • Steen, Lynn Arthur. 2004. Everything I Needed to Know about Averages I Learned in College. Peer Review 6(4): 4-8. • Wiest, Lynda R., Heidi J. Higgins, and Janet Hart Frost. 2007. Quantitative Literacy for Social Justice. Equity & Excellence in Education 40(1): 47-55.
    29. 29. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Lynette Hoelter: