An introduction to data analysis and the research process using SPSS

This page links to all the material for an introductory course in data analysis using SPSS (hosted on GitHub).

The course ran for 7 weeks with two three hour lessons per week.

The course was presented using an active learning format. Lectures on substantive, theoretical and practical issues were followed by computer labs. Practical illustrations of key issues were demonstrated.

Online resources were introduced and students encouraged to interact with these and to work through readings and material outside of class. Students were also introduced to readings, text books and simulations illustrating key themes.

Course Material

Data and Lab Material

Additional Data Sources

Additional data sources briefly used to illustrate reading data into and out of SPSS

Sampling Distribution Exemplar

The teaching around sampling distributions provides a good example of the active learning strategy employed on this course.

This lesson was about mid-point on the course. Students had been introduced to the concept of distributions several times prior to this lesson.

The sampling distribution and the related concept of central limit theorem is not easy to grasp, particularly for students new to survey research.

This course employed three strategies to teach the sampling distribution:

  1. A concise set reading (along with the availability of more general text book readings)
  2. An online simulation
  3. An in class practical

The in class practical was taken from a great paper published in Teaching Sociology called A Tail of Three Distributions (Wybraniec and Wilmoth 1999).

In the practical the students drew samples from a known population. This was then used to compare the population distribution, the sample distribution and the sampling distribution.

Ordinarily, in survey research, only the sample distribution is known, the value for the population is estimated and the sampling distribution is theoretical.

In this practical demonstration it is possible to show all three distributions to the students.

I asked several students if this practical helped. All were positive. One responded that they had sort of known this, but this had made it so much clearer… as a teacher this is music to your ears…

Wybraniec, J. and Wilmoth, J. 1999. Teaching Students Inferential Statistics: A ‘Tail’ of Three Distributions. Teaching Sociology 27(1), pp. 74–80. doi: 10.2307/1319249.


Page created 22/07/17, updated, 24/07/17