Social Studies 306

Final Assignment

Due December 16, 1997

Part A. Analysis of some variables in 746.SAV. (Graded as part of 60% for assignments).

This assignment asks you to use the data in the 746.SAV file in the directory Public on 'Arts\Vol2\Students' to obtain various frequency distributions, statistics, and tables that describe some of the responses to the Survey of Student Life. For each variable you examine it is probably best to begin by requesting a frequency distribution for that variable. If all that is required in the question is the frequency distribution, then recoding is usually not necessary. Where the means procedure is used to obtain statistics, it may be necessary to recode the values of the variable to meaningful values, and to eliminate the values that should be considered missing or undefined (the 9s, 90s, 98s, 99s, etc.). What might be the best strategy is to modify the 746.SAV file as you proceed, saving the data file as a new file, with a different name, in your own directory. This will allow you to save the changes you make in the file, and it will be in this new form in your own directory when you come back to use it later. (The only danger in doing this is that if you recode incorrectly, some of the values of the original variables may be lost in your file. This is not too serious a problem because you can always go back and obtain the original file in the Public directory).

Note: There are still be a number of errors in 746.SAV. If you note any unusual or nonsense values when examining frequency distributions or cross-classification tables, make a note of these and report them to me. You could also track down the ID number of these unusual values in the data window and report these to me.

1. Frequency Distributions

(a) Obtain frequency distributions for one of the sets of the new variables that are in this year's questionnaire for the first time - e.g. Q13 to Q20, Q21-Q22, Q26-Q30, Q33-Q37, Q39-Q41, Q45 and Q47. Write a short note summarizing the patterns you observe for one of these sets of variables.

(b) Obtain a frequency distribution for GPA and grades in grade 12. Then recode the values of GPA and grade twelve grades so that the new values match the values for the midpoints of the respective intervals that these values represent. Obtain the frequency distribution, mean, and standard deviation for the recoded variables. Write a short note describing the distribution of GPA and grade 12 grades. Note: Save the recoded GPA for question 2. (b). (Optional: Use Graphs -- Histogram to obtain a histogram of the distribution, along with the normal curve. Briefly describe the difference between the actual and normal distribution. To print the histograms, you will need access to the laser printer).

(c) Compute a variable showing the number of children per respondent. Then obtain a frequency distribution, along with mean and standard deviation, for the number of children per respondent.

2. Examining Relationships with Statistics -- Compare Means -- Means

When using this procedure, make sure that the codes for the dependent variable are either meaningful values or are declared as missing values.

(a) Obtain six tables showing the distribution by (i) sex and (ii) year of university for (i) the number of cigarettes smoked daily, (ii) the number of annual visits to the doctor, and (iii) the number of annual visit to the dentist. Describe the overall results, commenting on whether the results are in the direction you expected.

(b) Examine how the GPA (which you have recoded in question 1.(b)) differs by (i) whether or not the respondent has a job this semester, and (ii) academic experience (Q44: ACADEXP in the data file). Write a short note describing the results.

3. Examining Relationships with Statistics -- Summarize -- Crosstabs

Examine the relationship between (i) one of the variables in Q20 and sex, (ii) one of the variables in Q21 and sex, and (iii) one of the variables in Q45 and ACADEXP of Q44. Explain what each table shows. Is the latter table more or less consistent with what you found in question 2. (b)?

Note: In order to interpret cross-classification tables, it is helpful to have row or column percentages. These are obtained in the Cells box of the Crosstabs procedure.

Optional: Use the result from a chi-square test to comment on whether or not there is statistical evidence for a relationship between the variables in the table. You can request the chi-square test in the Statistics box of the Crosstabs procedure.

Part B. Final Report (20% of final grade).

This assignment asks you to write a paper on one section of the Survey of Student Life.

Choose one of the following areas and analyze the data in that section of the Survey. If there is some other combination of questions or issues that you would prefer to analyze, that may be all right, but check it with me first.

  1. Background of students in the Survey and degree of representativeness of the Survey. Personal profile -- age, sex, number of children, living arrangements, etc. of students. Educational profile -- credit hours, majors, degrees, stage of program, etc.

  2. Time use at the university, at domestic and family activities, and at job. Patterns of time use, allocation of total time, possible conflicts among uses of time and possible effects of these on other variables.

  3. Health and Lifestyle. Questions 13 through 22.

  4. Alcohol Use. Patterns and connections to other variables in the Survey.

  5. Multiculturalism.

  6. Personal and Family Background. Summary of main variables. Connect these to other variables in the Survey.

  7. Academic Performance. Patterns and connection to other variables such as effects of job on academic performance (and length of time taken to complete degree). Nature of sacrifices made.

  8. Employment patterns and types of jobs. Major patterns -- reasons for jobs and kinds of jobs, pay. Any connection of these to type of student or individual?

In addition to the specific topic area you investigate, each report should contain a discussion of each of the following.

(a). Aim of the Survey or a section of the Survey. Each report should include a short discussion of the background and aims of that section of the Survey -- why the particular questions were included, what we were attempting to find, and how the results might be used. Attempt to state what hypotheses or expectations you might have (from last year's Survey, class discussions, or from other observations), and any theoretical or practical approaches that guide your analysis.

(b) Survey methodology and shortcomings of the section you are analyzing. Note any shortcomings in terms of problems with approach we adopted, time, coverage, questions that seem misleading or incomplete, questions or issues that were not included, consistency of responses, problems with construction of questions, problems with format, and so on.

(c) Conclusions and implications for next year's class. Summary of major findings and what suggestions you might have for future work in this area.

When analyzing each of these sections, you may have to use questions from various parts of the Survey. Make the paper as readable as possible, using numbers and tables where necessary, but not including too many tables in the written text. Describe the patterns in words and attach as many extra tables as you like in an appendix.

The paper need not be long but should demonstrate a through analysis of the section you are analyzing.

Note: I hope to be able to use some of your written work as part of a final report associated with this project. If you are using a word processor to write the paper, include a copy of the paper on disk. Save the SPSS output files in your directory, and I can check them there.