November 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Spring 2017 | Data Analysis Course Offered for Undergraduate Students

Graph of Confidence intervals for predicted probability, conditioned on education level, age, and average income; y axis shows Predicted Probability of Voting; x-axis shows Effect of Education and Age on Voting Behavior

By Matt McCullough ’17

Undergraduate students can take advantage of the data analysis course offered by Sociology & Anthropology in Spring 2017.

SOC 4500/5500: Data Analysis

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Course Description: This course develops the ability to analyze research data in the social sciences. The linkages among measurement, statistics, and interpretation of results in social research will be explored. Unscheduled computer laboratory commitment is required.

What is Data Analysis?

Data analysis is an empirical research skill that is highly desirable. To have marketable research skills, both qualitative and quantitative, data analysis is invaluable.

Students who are worried about the course being too mathematical should not stress.

The course requires a background knowledge of statistics and formulas, but this is not a mathematics course. It focuses on the quantitative collection and analysis of data using programs like R, statistical computing software, and Microsoft Excel.

The Data Analysis course is taught by Dr. Howard Welser, who says that in this class “students will complete three projects, the first using Excel and the second and third using R.

“Some specific skills learned will include data management, functions and fundamentals of data cleaning in Excel, univariate statistics, basic data visualization, management syntax files, programming in R, regression analysis, and research report writing,” says Welser.

Why Take this Course?

Welser and many of his students can testify the value of taking Data Analysis. Some Ohio University alumni credit this course with helping them get a job after graduation. This is one of the few courses that offer career-relatable skills that are highly desired on a résumé.

“I found Dr. Welser’s Data Analysis class to be extremely beneficial when it came to learning basic to medium level Excel skills,” says Michael Richard, an OHIO alum.

“Learning to use functions such as pivot tables to manipulate data not only helped with assignments for other classes, but has been very useful in the professional world as well,” he adds. “I really liked how the class was a blend of instruction, peer work, and independent time.”

Richard completed a B.A. in Sociology as well as Mathematics in 2012, then graduated with a master’s degree in Sociology in 2013. He now works as an Anti-Money Laundering Investigator at Discover Financial Services.

Nathan Taylor ’13 is a high school teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. “Having completed the class, I am really grateful for the opportunities it provided me to further my own studies in statistics from a social science perspective. As a sociology major, I wanted to push my own understanding of sociological concepts and research constructs by examining data analysis and statistical models.

“Professor’s Welser’s class was uniquely situated to provide me such an opportunity. Its project-centered curriculum allowed me to further develop my application of statistics on contemporary issues that motivated me to grapple with the challenges I faced in it. I learned the value of several statistical programs (Excel, R, etc.) as we explored their capabilities and limitations. In fact, I still use the methods I learned in class to my own current work as a high school teacher in Baltimore.

“Overall, I recommend the class to anyone wishing to further their knowledge in data analysis — the intellectually inviting atmosphere and open-ended inquiry the class provides would suit students with a diverse range of interests.”

Signing Up

The course is offered at the undergraduate and graduate level, valued at three credit hours for undergraduates and four for graduates.

The course meets in a computer lab. Course meetings are longer than most three credit hour courses, with three meetings a week of an hour and thirty minutes each.

Prerequisites include nine hours in Sociology courses, including SOC 1000 and SOC 3500.

The course only has a capacity of 18 students to ensure everyone has a computer. Enrollment in the course is by permission only, so you must obtain a green slip from Welser.

Data Analysis is an invaluable course to have on a transcript.

Look for it by searching “SOC 4500” for undergraduates or “SOC 5500” for graduates in Course Offerings. You can also email Welser at with questions or to set up a meeting to obtain a green slip.

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