Basic Social Statistics (2016, 2017)

Winner - 2017 Outstanding Graduate Instructor Award, UMN Sociology

Statistics is a powerful—yet polarizing—tool for studying society. For some researchers, this is the best way to understand big trends across time, space, and groups. Others argue statistics blind us to important sociological questions about who decides what we know about the world. 

I teach this debate by treating this class as an introduction to data science. This provides students with the practical skills to understand and use statistical analyses, but also to think critically about where and when these skills are best put to use. 


"Evan's such an engaging instructor"

"He made social statistics so much fun and make so much sense it made me question my major."

-Student Nomination

Sociological Research Methods

Photo Credit: Marco Verch, Flickr CC

Photo Credit: Marco Verch, Flickr CC

This course is motivated by two questions. The narrow question—how do social scientists do their research?—is designed to prepare students to become better readers of the research literature and to start working on their own projects. But we also tackle a larger question that makes this class relevant for any college student: what does it mean to do "good" work?

In a world where people are increasingly concerned about polarization and "fake news," the way we collect and evaluate our information matters more than ever. At their core, research methods are about the best practices for finding information and evaluating the quality of that information. If you work in management, how do you know your performance reviews are accurately reflecting employee productivity? If you work in the nonprofit world, how are you going to demonstrate program effectiveness? How do you design a survey, A/B test a marketing campaign, or cull from an archive to get a solid background for your next documentary project? These skills serve students well regardless of their future career choices. 


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