Textbooks and Exercises

Information on this page includes:

At present, we offer about a half dozen textbooks that can be used in whole or in part (or modified as you wish) in introductory courses in research methods or statistics. These instructional materials are designed for use in a variety of social science disciplines. They vary in complexity from a series of short exercises to online textbooks. All are published under Creative Commons licenses and instructors have permission to modify the materials as they see fit.

For the past few years, the California State University (CSU) Social Science Research and Instructional Council has been able to provide honoraria of $3,000 to a limited number of CSU faculty submitting the best proposals. During the Spring Semester, the Council sends out an RFP (see the most recent version here to its mailing list. If you are a CSU faculty or staff member and would like to join this list, you may do so here. If you have any questions, please write Ed Nelson (enelson@csufresno.edu) or John Korey (Jlkorey@cpp.edu), or the current Council Chair.

These instructional materials fall into two broad categories – those that are primarily research and statistics oriented and those that are more content oriented.  Each is described briefly in this document.

The exercises use several statistical software packages.

  • SPSS: a widely used statistical package. If your institution does not have a license for SPSS, you can rent a copy. A tutorial on the use of SPSS, developed by SSRIC faculty, is freely available.
  • PSPP: The creators of PSPP describe it as "a [f]ree replacement for the proprietary program SPSS." It has a look and feel similar to SPSS, and many but not all of its capabilities. A tutorial on the use of PSPP, developed by SSRIC faculty, is freely available. For more information on PSPP, visit the PSPP website, or download our handouts,  “Notes on Using PSPP” and “Differences between PSPP and SPSS.
  • SDA: Online statistical analysis program developed by the Survey Methods Program at UC Berkeley. SDA is freely available to anyone with internet access.
  • STATA: Stata is a proprietary software package with many options. It is especially useful for managing survey-based data sets and analyses. Stata's capabilities include data management, statistical analysis, graphics, simulations, regression, and custom programming. It also has a system to disseminate user-written programs.
  • R: a free and open-source programming and software environment designed for statistical computing and graphics. 

Note that materials developed for use with PSPP can be run using SPSS; materials developed for use with SPSS can probably be run using PSPP, but this has not been verified.


IBM SPSS Statistics (Version 26): A Basic Tutorial 
Intended for those who want to learn the basics of SPSS.  It includes all the functions of SPSS that you would use in introductory research methods and statistics classes.  The most recent revision was completed in 2020.

PSPP: A Basic Tutorial
    Logo, MERLOT Classics 
Winner of a 2021 MERLOT Classic Award in Sociology

A free alternative to SPSS, created by the Free Software Foundation. Includes many, but not all, of the features found in SPSS.  This Tutorial includes a subset of the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS) for use in conjunction with the software.  Created in 2020.  

A big limitation of PSPP is that it has hardly any graphics capabilities. SOFA (Statistics Open for All) is much better in that regard. Taken together, PSPP and SOFA provide a reasonable and free alternative to SPSS for beginning students. George Self has written a "lab manual." He wrote it as a handout for his students, but hasn't posted it to his own website or to that of the Free Software Foundation, with which he is affiliated.  We contacted him, and he graciously allowed us to post it on ssric.org at (https://ssric.org/files/2019-10/G_SELF_LabManual.pdf).

Introduction to Statistics: Available in three different versions:

Introduction to Research Methods in Political Science: The POWERMUTT Project
A Web site that can serve as a basic on-line textbook for teaching research methods (from frequency distributions through OLS) in political science and cognate disciplines. Included are data subsets of the American National Election Studies (ANES) and the GSS cumulative file, as well as data from the U.S. Senate, the American states, and the countries of the world. Statistical software used is SPSS. Created in 2003, revised in 2015.

EXERCISES (Methods/Statistics-Oriented)

Exploring the Macroeconomy

Exploring the Macroeconomy: An instructional module, using SPSS, the US national income and product accounts, and additional data from the Departments of Labor and Commerce. Designed to fill the gap between an introductory statistics course and either principles of macroeconomics or intermediate macroeconomics. The goal is to bring empirical analysis into macro theory courses and to bring macro examples into statistics courses.

Formulating and Testing Research Questions 

A series of exercises to guide you through the research process, from selection of a topic through analysis and interpretation of data. Created in 2020.

Longitudinal Analysis of Survey Data 
       Logo, MERLOT Classics      
Winner of a 2019 MERLOT  Classic Award in ISociology

Introduction  to several ways (cohort analysis, trend analysis, panel studies) of examining change over time. Data for the exercises consist of three subsets drawn from two national surveys, the General Social Survey (GSS) and the American National Election Study (ANES). Statistical analysis used is SPSS. Created 2016.

Puzzling it Out: Collaborative, Game Based Review Activities for Introductory Statistics
This activity incorporates high-impact practices to review and practice introductory statistics concepts. The exercises are inspired by “escape room” puzzle games. In small groups, students solve puzzles that require them to apply basic statistical knowledge and skills. Winner of an Instructional Materials Grant from the SSRIC. Created in 2019.

Research Methods
Provides an introduction to research methods including research design, measurement, sampling, survey data collection, univariate, bivariate and multivariate data analysis using the 2018 survey of high school seniors which is part of the Monitoring the Future series. Includes a chapter on writing research reports.  Statistical software used is SDA (Survey Documentation and Analysis). Created in 2019.

EXERCISES (Content-Oriented)

Introduces students to issues of conceptualization, measurement, validity, bivariate and multivariate analysis using data from the 2018 General Social Survey.  Statistical software used is SPSS.  Created in 2015; revised in 2020.

Confidence in Societal Institutions and Spending Priorities
Introduces students to univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis using data from the 2018 General Social Survey.    Statistical software used is SPSS. Created in 2016 (to be revised in 2020).

Critical Thinking I - Exercises for Critical Thinking
Provides a series of exercises that could be used in a critical thinking course. Exercises 14 and 15 use the 2018 General Social Survey and Survey Documentation and Analysis, an online statistical program. Both the GSS and SDA are freely available on the Internet. Created in 2020.

Critical Thinking II - Resources for Critical Thinking 
These resources accompany "Critical Thinking I – Exercises for Critical Thinking." They provide resources for teaching critical thinking using a data-driven approach. Revised in 2016 and 2020.

Fair Housing  Practices
Students will use Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data and SPSS to help determine whether there aee differences in mortgage approval rates for different demographic groups (race, ethnicity, gender) controlling for income.

Gender Differences
Introduces students to univariater, bivariate, and multivariate analysis using data from the 2018 General Social Survey. Statistical software used is SPSS. Created in 2016; revised in 2020

Globalization: A Data Analysis Approach
These exercises integrate key concepts related to the study of international political economy by applying quantitative methods. These exercises help students understand the dynamics of international trade, contrasting patterns of international development, and how the winners and losers from globalization behave at the ballot box. Students will also learn how to present quantitative information graphically.  Data are from the 2013 Field Poll. Statistical Software used is Stata. Created in 2020.

Guns I
Included are six sets of exercises can use to analyze public opinion regarding gun control laws student. Statistical software used is SPSS for the first four exercise sets; SDA is used for exercise sets 5 and 6. Last updated 2020.

Guns II
Introduces students to research design, univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analysis using data from a 2016 Pew Research Center political survey.  Includes a chapter on writing research reports.   Statistical software used is SPSS. Created in 2020.

This series of modules will help students think about immigration and the factors that shape views on immigration among the U.S. population. In addition, the purpose of this assignment is to guide students to use SPSS to generate information, analysis, and a report about a large dataset (i.e., the General Social Survey).

Introduction to the Study of War
This module uses an integrative approach that allows students to practice analyzing war data as they learn about how war is defined, the levels of analysis used in the study of war, and what major theories of international relations have to say about war. Statistical software used is SPSS. Created in 2020.

Mapping Exercises 
Exercises in Geographic Information Systems (GIS): mapping animal movement, airline access, food security, droughts, travel time, pipelines and oil spills.

Political and Social Divisions in American Society
The goal of these exercises is to introduce students to the analysis of political and social divisions in American society using the 2018 General Social Survey, a large national probability survey of adults in the U.S.  The focus is on political, gender, socioeconomic, racial, religious, and geographical divisions.  The statistical program we're using is Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) written at UC Berkeley and freely available wherever you have an internet connection. There is a brief introduction to SDA at the end of these exercises.  Users have permission to use these exercises and the data set and to revise them to fit their needs. Created in 2020.

Public Opinion on Social issues 1975-2017
Introduces students to bivariate and multivariate analysis using data from the General Social Survey.  Two data sets are used -- one that includes only the 2018 file and the other that includes data from seven time periods.  Statistical software used is SPSS or PSPP.  Revised in 2019.

Religion I
Introduces students to issues of conceptualization, measurement, validity, bivariate and multivariate analysis using data from the 2018 General Social Survey.  Statistical software used is SPSS.  Created in 2015 ; revised in 2020.

Religion II
Introduces students to measurement, bivariate and multivariate analysis using data from the 2014 Pew Research Center's Religious Landscape Survey.  Statistical software used is SPSS.  Created in 2017; revised in 2020.

Sports Medicine
This module consists of six exercises dealing with data in the field of sports medicine. Statistical software used is SPSS.  Created in 2020.

Introduces students to univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis using the 2018 General Social Survey.  Statistical software used is SPSS.  Created in 2016; revised 2020. 

Ways to Use These Materials in Class

  1. You can use them from an instructor's station in a classroom or in a computer lab for a presentation or demonstration.

  2. You can provide links to them from your on-line syllabus for regular assignments or as independent and extra credit projects, with little or no modification.

  3. Materials can be downloaded; you can then modify them as needed, and distribute or place them on a local server.

Other Courseware
Instructional handouts, PowerPoint presentations, videos, etc. are available from SSRIC and individual CSU campuses.

Links to Other Instructional Sites
Links to resources for teaching graphs, maps, research design, sampling, SPSS, statistics, as well as general resources for teaching data analysis.