Fall 2017 - SA 257 D100

Understanding Quantitative Research in Sociology and Anthropology (SA) (4)

Class Number: 2595

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 5 – Dec 4, 2017: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2017
    Thu, 8:30–11:30 a.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Pre and/or co-requisite SA 255.



Introduces analytical skills necessary to understand and evaluate quantitative research in sociology and anthropology. Reading, interpreting, and critiquing studies using statistical tests common to both fields; evaluating popular coverage of social research. Measures of central tendency, distribution and dispersion; statistical significance. Working with quantitative data and designing graphs and tables. Quantitative.


We are presented with numerical information about the social world every day. We might read that 34% of Canadians support one political candidate, or that women tend to marry for the first time at age 30 while men marry at age 32. Where does this information come from and what does it really tell us? The goal of this course is to take the mystery out of quantitative research and numbers. It will provide an introduction to thinking about, reading, understanding, evaluating and presenting quantitative approaches to anthropological and sociological topics.

We will discuss basic issues such as: What does it mean to measure things like abstract and moral attitudes, experiences or historical processes with numbers? What does this quantification allow us to do, and what are its limits? We will explore fundamental principles that form the basis of statistical analysis. What does it mean to say a group has an “average height”? What is statistical inference, and what are the concepts that its claims are based on? We will also read and compare news media descriptions of studies with original study reports, interpret different types of tables and graphs, and identify questions we should ask about each of these. You will also present findings yourself: using data from surveys, you will write about quantitative findings and use the SPSS statistics program to describe them using clear and appropriate tables and graphs.


  • Pre-class and in-class exercises 15%
  • Article evaluations (2 @ 10% each) 20%
  • Data project (multiple assignments) 30%
  • Exams 35%


If you do not write the final exam or withdraw from the course after the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Your final mark in the class will be based on the following:
For this course you will need to read and consider material before the day it’s assigned for, attend lectures and tutorials, participate in class discussion, and complete exercises before and during class that build on readings and in-class material. Readings and class time will complement rather than replicate each other, and you will be expected to draw on both as you complete exams, assignments and exercises.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy:
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01- S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



William W. Dressler. 2015. The 5 Things You Need to Know about Statistics:
Quantification in Ethnographic Research. Walnut, CA: Left Coast.
ISBN: 9781611323931

Additional readings posted to Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html