Social Studies 201

September 14, 2004


Introduction to labs


The teaching assistant for the labs this semester is xxxx.  will assist in the labs and mark the problem sets.  I will mark all the exams.


1. Introduction






2. Data set – SSAE98


The data set we will work with is primarily the data from the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences, conducted in Fall 1998.  I will generally refer to this as SSAE98, and the name of the data file containing these data is ssae98.sav.  


The survey was conducted as part of the class Social Studies 306 in Fall 1998.  The students listed on the front page developed the questionnaire, administered it in classes across the University of Regina, entered the data into the computer, and began an analysis of the data.  I wrote the Report and, during the last week of the semester, students took it around to the classes that originally participated in the survey.  This way the students who provided information about themselves were able to see some of the survey results.


The topics in the survey are similar to some of the topics in earlier semesters.   For example, the questions on pp. 2-3 are standard questions that were similar for each of the five years I conducted such a survey.  These are the administrative questions concerning identification of the students – methodologists recommend that these go at the end of the questionnaire but I was concerned that not all students would complete the survey, so we placed these questions first.   Questions concerning social and political views and university issues were primarily developed by the students.  We drew on similar questions from other surveys when developing these.  The section on multiculturalism and immigration was included as part of my research.  I obtained a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada, to assist with the costs of conducting and analyzing this survey. 


Questions on personal and family background are to help provide a further idea of personal and family characteristics and the questions on academic performance on p. 12 were a matter of interest to the students in the class, and provided a comparison with earlier years.  The surveys of earlier years had primarily been concerned with job activity of students, and these questions, along with questions on student debt and some other university issues are included near the end of the questionnaire.


When working with the data set from the survey, you can primarily rely on the questionnaire, although you may wish to use the single page handout “List of variables in the SSAE98 data set.”  This list provides a short summary and more or less matches up with the questions in the order they are in the survey.  However, to reduce the size of the data set slightly and to ensure that student confidentiality and anonymity is preserved, I have deleted some of the identifying information.  I have also excluded most of the open ended questions, such as question 25 and the questions on ethnicity.  The computer program SPSS is not well adapted to analyzing these.


The sample for the survey was a combination of quota, judgment, and cluster sampling.  I selected a cross section of University classes, hoping to be reasonably representative by faculty, college, and year of program.  We went around to about twenty-five classes and took fifteen minutes of class time to have students in each of these classes fill in the questionnaire.  The sample is not representative of registration at the department level, but is reasonably representative of undergraduates by Faculty and other characteristics.  In terms of ethnicity, one of my major interests for the research project, comparative data is not available for the student body.  But the proportion of aboriginal and visible minority students in the sample is very close to the proportion of aboriginal and visible minority members of the Regina population, as of the Census of Canada 1996. 


Since there were not a lot of visa students in the sample, and since the research project was primarily concerned with students who are resident of Canada, I excluded the visa students in this data set.  As a result, the sample size in the data set you will be working with has 707 students, rather than the 726 noted in the Report.  Most respondents were undergraduates, but there are a few graduate students in the sample – I regard it as primarily a sample of undergraduates.


As we proceed through the semester, we will work with this data set, and you will become familiar with some of the characteristics of students in this data set.


3. Procedures in CL109










4. Computers


The lab is maintained by Computing Services, so address problems associated with the lab to me or to the Helpdesk in AH 106, in the University Library or at 585-4685. 


In order to save and print data, it is necessary to sign on with your username and password.  If you do not know these, you may have to go to the Helpdesk to obtain this information.  Once you have this username and password, it is also possible to work in other computer labs on campus, although SPSS may not be available in all labs. 


In terms of working with the computer, you may need to find your way around the folders on the computer.  For this class, all the folders you need work with are in the t:\ folder, but you will have to move around within this folder.  The data set is in the area t:\students\public


5. SPSS – Statistical Package for the Social Sciences


This is a very flexible and powerful program for conducting statistical analysis of quantitative data.  It can process the seven hundred plus cases and ninety-eight variables almost instantaneously.  Once you become familiar with the program, the actual processing of the data will take little time – it is just a matter of learning the procedures and finding your way round the data set.  The written comments on the statistical results will probably take you more time than obtaining the calculations that the computer does.


Structure of the data set – each row represents one individual in the survey and each column represents one variable, describing that characteristic of the individual.  For the most part, you need not look at the data set itself, but merely use the statistical procedures provided by the program.  The codes for the different values of the variables in the data set generally match the codes in the questionnaire, although we had to construct extra codes for some variables.  So the numbers in the spreadsheet represent the responses of survey participants. 


The SPSS program takes the data in the spreadsheet and organizes these data according to instructions provided by the user of SPSS.  To begin these procedures,


Click on Window – Output and a new window with instructions such as Edit, View, etc. are on top.


Click on Analyze – Descriptive Statistics and there are several options such as Frequencies, Descriptives,Explore, and Crosstabs available. 


For the most part, these are the statistical procedures we will use in the first part of this semester.  The other procedures are for later in the semester.


6. Copying SPSS output to a Word for Windows file


If you wish to copy the tables from the SPSS output into a Word for Windows file, click on the table or, if you wish to copy more than one table, click on the first table, hold the Ctrl button down and click on the other tables you wish to copy.  Each table should have a rectangle constructed around it.  Then click on Edit – Copy objects.  Open Word for Windows and use Edit-Paste or the Paste icon and the tables should be pasted into the Word for Windows file.  Note that these tables cannot be edited in Word for Windows, but text can be written above or below the tables you have copied from SPSS.


7. Printing


Remember that you are allotted sixty pages for the semester, so use the printing judiciously.   If there are extra tables in the output file, you can delete the unwanted tables and headings by clicking on the appropriate table or title and pressing the Delete key.  Once you have the tables in the form that answers the questions, print those out using File-Print.  Hand in the tables, with your written comments. 



Paul Gingrich

September 14, 2004