Spring 2019 - SA 257 D100

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

Class Number: 3093

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Mon, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 15, 2019
    Mon, 6:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Jorge Rodriguez
    Office: AQ 5069
    Office Hours: MO 10:00-12:00
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150.



Takes the mystery, but not the magic, out of quantitative research in anthropology and sociology by introducing analytical skills necessary for reading, understanding, and critiquing quantitative research. Students evaluate popular coverage of social research; learn concepts related to statistical significance; conduct basic statistical analysis, including 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 role do, and should, numbers have in society? 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.


  • Participation & exercises 5%
  • Lab worksheets 10%
  • Group simulated experiments (3 x 5%) 15%
  • Midterm exam 15%
  • Data project assignments (3 x 10%) 30%
  • Final exam 25%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before 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.

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.



Dressler, W. W. (2015). The 5 Things You Need to Know about Statistics: Quantification in Ethnographic Research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
ISBN: 978-1-611323931

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/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