FASS508d Quantitative Research Methods 1 (online distance learning)

Module description

• Uncertainty and probability.
• Random sampling and random variables. Different approaches to sampling. What is a "random" sample and why is it important for statistical inference?
• Variable types - discrete vs. continuous.
• Distributions - what they are and why they are important.
• Basic descriptive statistics - mean, median, mode, standard deviation, interquartile range.
• Credible intervals. The difference between probability and effect size. Credible intervals as limits of (un)certainty. Factors affecting the width of credible intervals.
• Simple hypothesis testing using credible intervals - the single mean, single proportion, difference between two means, and difference between two proportions.

Aims and objectives

To provide students with:

• a fundamental understanding of probability
• a basic understanding of random sampling and why it is important.
• an introduction to basic descriptive statistics
• a simple introduction to inferential statistics for one- and two-sample problems, based around the notion of credible intervals.
• To teach students how to perform the relevant calculations using a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc).

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

• Understand what probability is.
• Distinguish between probability and effect size.
• Understand how and why researchers take random samples from larger populations.
• Have a general idea of what a distribution is.
• Understand what basic descriptive measures (means, medians, modes, standard deviations, and interquartile ranges) can tell us.
• Understand what a credible interval is and what it can tell us.
• Know how to use a credible interval to test simple one- and two-sample hypotheses.
• Carry out the above calculations using a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc).

Franklin, J. (2009), What Science Knows and How It Knows It, New York, Encounter Books.  [Mainly chapters 1 and 10.]

Hand, D. (2008), Statistics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Paulos, J.A. (1995), A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper: Making Sense of The Numbers in the Headlines, London, Penguin.

Savage, S.L. (2009), The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty, Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley.

Timing and Location

 Term: Michaelmas Date(s): 16/10/17 - 24/11/17 Number of sessions: 6 x 1 hour sessions Runs weekly, starting in week 2 Timing and Location: online distance learning