401 Political Analysis

Office Location
Department of Political Science 
1011 McClung Tower
University of Tennessee 
Knoxville, TN 37996-0410 
Office Phone: (865) 974-0802
FAX: (865) 974-7037        Office Hours: W, 2:30-4:00pm; R, 12:00-2:00pm or by appointment. First class meets in Nursing 105; 
                                                                      subsequent  classes in Baker Center 204.

Home  Email: dfolz@utk.edu
Syllabus 401 Political Analysis        Survey Research Links
     Spring 2011

Course purpose & objectives:
        The purpose of this course is to help majors in political science understand how political researchers use social science research methods to advance knowledge in the fields of political science and public administration.  Understanding these methods and their appropriate use can help students make sound judgments about the quality and credibility of any research article or book in social science. The course focuses on how to distinguish between good and bad research and specifically how to evaluate the quality of evaluation research and survey research.
The course has six specific learning objectives:
    1. To understand the logic of and language used in social science research.
    2. To understand the basic concepts and steps involved in the systematic research process.
    3. To understand what constitutes a good research design and the challenges involved in  measuring concepts and variables.
    4. To know the principles of causality and the different types of evaluation research designs that attempt to determine the effectiveness of a program or policy.
    5. To apply the principles of good survey research to the design of a survey and to offer constructive feedback on surveys designed by peers.
    6. To learn how to analyze data, communicate research findings and be an intelligent consumer of research.

Required readings:
    1. .Pollock, Phillip H. (2009). The Essentials of Political Analysis CQ Press. – 3rd Ed..
    2. Folz, David (1996). Survey Research for Public Administration, Sage Publications, Inc.
    3. Other articles linked on this class web page or placed on the Library Reserve. The schedule on this class web page is the official record of
            assignments and required readings.
Class format:
        Students are expected to attend class and to participate in discussions about the topics and readings scheduled for each class period. Read the assigned materials before class meetings so that you can participate in discussions and benefit from lectures.  Discussions and lectures are supported by PowerPoint slide shows.
        Quizzes will be administered periodically to reward those who keep up with the readings. Make-up quizzes will not be given. Occasionally, these quizzes may be extra credit; other quizzes will be computed in the course grade scale.

        Disability Services
        If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a documented disability or if you have emergency information to share, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 191 Hoskins Library at 974-6087.  This will ensure that you are properly registered for services. The ODS web page is http://ods.utk.edu/

    TELS Scholarships
        There is an appeal process for students who lose Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility. Information about that process and the scholarships is general is available at: web.utk.edu/~finaid

         There will be three exams that consist of multiple choice, problem-solving, and short answer identification/ definition questions.  Many of these questions will require application of principles to solve problem scenarios. Study guides will be posted prior to each exam
         Make up exams will be given at the discretion of the instructor. Any approved make-up exam for a student will be scheduled only during the final exam week during one of the designated make-up exam time periods.

The Survey Research Exercise:
         Each student will prepare a questionnaire that meets the relevant standards discussed in class and the assigned readings. You will prepare a minimum of 20 questions and a maximum of 25 questions for this assignment. No more than five (5) of these questions can measure respondent attributes.
You will not actually implement this survey.
         This exercise has two parts:
            (1) preparation and presentation of a Preliminary Draft questionnaire on which the instructor and your peers will provide feedback (worth 40% of the
                    exercise grade)
            (2) submission of a Final Survey Draft that incorporates relevant feedback from your peers and the instructor on your preliminary draft (worth 60% of your
                    exercise grade).

    Students submit the following with the final questionnaire draft:
        (1) A description of the specific purposes and objectives of the instrument.
        (2) Who is intended to be contacted and why.
        (3) Why a particular contact method has been chosen.
        (4) How large any sample is, the sampling error and level of confidence and how a researcher would obtain information
                about the units of analysis in the proposed survey research.
       (5) A list of references (APA style) that indicates the resources onsulted in learning about the topic of your questionnaire and in designing questions.

        A detailed handout on this assignment will be distributed that explains the types of topics and issues that you may choose
as the focus for your questionnaire project the requirements for a topic proposal and the standards by which your questionnaire will be evaluated.

Data Analysis Exercise
        This exercise provides students an opportunity to learn how to use statistical analysis software to perform basic analyses of assigned variables in large data
set and how to prepare a clear and succinct report that summarizes anayltical findings.

        Your final grade will be determined by your performance on the exams, quizzes, the state analysis project, and any extra credit points you acquire.
Each exam is worth 100 points.
   Component  @ Percentage
    Exam 1                                    20%
    Exam 2                                    20%
    Exam 3                                    20%
    Questionnaire Project:              20%
    Quizes, SPSS computer           20%
        exercises, class participation

The grade scale for all work is: 90 to 100%= A; 85 to 89%  = B+; 80 to 84%  = B;  75 to 79%  = C+; 70 to 74%  = C;
65 to 69%  = D; Under 65%  = F

Class Schedule and Assignments:   {The instructor reserves the right to make modifications or additions to the reserve reading
assignments and web sites to incorporate the most current research}

        Jan. 13 -- Course Introduction and student responsibilities.

        Jan. 18 -- An Overview of the Research Enterprise
                                Pollock, “Introduction” and Chap. 10.

        Jan. 20 -- An Overview of the Research Enterprise (cont.)
                          Johnson & Joslyn, Chap. 2
                                 Pollock,  pp. 44-54 in Chap. 3

        Jan. 25 -- Main Elements of the Research Process
                               Pollock, Chap. 1, Chap. 2 pp. 26-30

        Jan. 27 -- Measurement, Reliability and Validity Issues
                               Pollock, Chap. 1, Chap. 2 pp. 26-30 (read again)

        Feb. 1 -- The Nature of Causation
                 Article analysis exercise (Type and submit answers to the five questions discussed in class).
                                Johnson & Reynolds, Chap. 3 “Research Design”
                                Pollock, Chap. 4 pp. 73-78.

        Feb. 3 -- Evaluation Research Designs & Review
                                Pollock, Chap. 4, pp.78-90.
                                Review Study Guide

        Feb. 8 --Exam #1       Study Guide #1

        Feb. 10 -- Introduction to Survey Research and the Media, Polls & Elections
                                Asher, Chap. 1, 6, 7 (Library Reserve)
                                Folz, Chap. 1, 2

        Feb. 15 & 17 -- Planning Survey Research Projects, Dealing with Non-attitudes in Survey Research & Evaluating the Quality of Polls
                                Asher, Chap. 2 (Library Reserve)
                                Read:  "A Measure of Media Bias"   (Due 2-17: Typed answers to questions about this article discussed in class).

        Feb. 22 & 24 -- Sampling Methods
                                Folz, Chap. 3
                                Asher, Chap. 4 (Library Reserve)
                                Pollock, Chap. 6
                                            Extra Credit Exercises: (1)  Johns Hopkins Iraq Casualties Study    (due 2-24)
                                                                               (2)  Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault  (due 2-24)

        Mar. 1 & 3-- Survey Design and Writing Good Survey Questions.
                                Folz, Chap. 4 .
                                Asher, Chap. 3 (Library Reserve)
        Mar. 8* – Summary & Review. *= Survey topic proposals due by class time.
        Mar. 10 -- Exam #2      Study Guide #2
        Mar. 15 &17 -- No Class. Spring Break.

       Mar. 22 -- Managing Data: Coding Logic, and Data Entry.
                                Folz, Chap. 5

        Mar. 24, 29, 31 -- Presentations of & Peer Feedback on Draft Questionnaires

        Apr. 5 --  Introduction to Data Analysis & Univariate Descriptive Statistics
                               Folz, Chap. 6, pp. 138-147.
                               Pollock, Chap. 2, pp. 30-41.

        Apr. 7 & 12* -- Bivariate Statistics
                               Folz, Chap. 6, pp. 147-171 & Chap. 7.
                               Pollock, Chap. 3, pp. 54-66; Chap. 5; Chap. 8, pp. 170-174.
                             * Final Draft of Questionnaires due by class time.

        Apr. 14 -- Explanation of Data Analysis Exercise & Training in use of SPSS software.

        Apr. 19, 21, & 26-- SPSS Lab sessions for data analysis exercises.  Meet in HSS 201 computer lab on your assigned day. (Bring your data file and instruction sheets).

        Apr. 28* -- Course Summary & Review
                            *Data Analysis Memos due by class time

        May 9 -- Exam #3   12:30pm -1:45pm         Study Guide #3

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