Professor: Rob Wassmer, Ph.D.


Home Page:

Class Location: Sauturday, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 1027 Tahoe Hall

Office: Room 3037, Tahoe Hall

Office Phone: (916) 278 - 6304

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.; and by appointment if necessary.

Required Texts:

Please purchase all before first night's meeting.

(1) Essential Statistics for Public Managers and Policy Analysts, Evan M. Berman, CQ Press;

available for purchase at bookstore or click to buy on web at Amazon.Com ;

(2) Regression Basics, Leo H. Kahane, Sage;

available for purchase at bookstore or click to buy on web at Amazon.Com ;

(4) Logistic Regression: A Primer, Fred C. Pampel, Sage;

available for purchase at CSUS Bookstore or click to buy on web at Amazon.Com ;

(3) An SPSS Companion to Political Analysis, Philip H. Pollock, CQ Press;

available for purchase at CSUS Bookstore or click to buy on web at Amazon.Com ;

(3) SPSS Base 11.0 (Graduate Pack): Applications Guide and CD-ROM, 2002;

must be purchased at CSUS Bookstore in computer department.

Data Sets:

There are a few data sets that we will be using throughout the semester.  Most of them are on the CD that is included with Pollock book.  Two others can be found at the following links.  Most are in SPSS file form and can be downloaded into SPPS. 

Sprawl Survey Data (SPSS Form)

Sprawl Survey Data (Excel Form)

Sprawl Survey Codebook

Social Science Survey Database Archive


I have structured this course such that you must have an internet account that allows access to the World Wide Web. If you do not have one at home or work, you can get one through CSUS. At my homepage I will post an outline of each meeting and a description of the homework that is due at the following meeting. These will be available by 4 p.m. on the Friday before class meets. There will also be other handouts and web links posted at this site.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of PPA 207, it is expected that a student attending will:

(1) Have a working knowledge of where to begin to gather data for policy analysis.

(2) Possess the ability to accumulate data and do basic descriptive analysis of it using a spreadsheet program and more advanced statistical program (SPSS).

(3) Understand the importance of causal modeling before undertaking a statistical analysis.

(4) Understand the appropriate use of bivariate and multivariate statistical techniques that help to identify causal relationships between variables.

(5) Have a working knowledge of regression analysis and the value it offers to answering many policy questions.

(6) Be able to put together a research paper that describes a policy problem and undertakes a data based technique to offer a solution.

The purpose of this course is to expose the graduate student of public policy to some of the empirical methods used in the analysis and formulation of government policies. These include descriptive statistics, types and sources of data, distributions of data, regression analysis and interpretation, and some of the basic issues/problems that can arise in regression analysis. My goal is not to turn you into an expert on statistical and regression theory; instead, I shall provide you with a working knowledge of the most basic techniques. Even if one expects to never apply these techniques directly in their anticipated career path, it is very likely that they will be required to interpret and comment on reports that contain policy analysis based on these techniques.


Pedagogy will be equally focused on in-class meetings and discussions, required assignments out of the Pollock book, and assignments using SPSS and the provided data sets. Each class meeting will begin with discussion and collection of the previous week�s assignments. Only the student who completed the assignment can turn it in (my method of attendance). After 90 minutes (10:30 a.m.) we will take a 15-minute break and then return (10:45 a.m.) for an additional 75 minutes of meeting. From 12 noon to 1 p.m., we will break for lunch. Class time between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. will be devoted to student presentations, discussion, and real-time computer work.

In-class time will also be devoted to covering the use of the Excel, SPSS, and Powerpoint computer packages. It is most important that you use these packages at home to get hands-on experience with the methods discussed in this class. Computer assignments will be due nearly every class period. If possible, the optimal situation is to install the purchased software on a home, work, or friend�s Windows compatible personal computer.


This class will meet a total of 8 times throughout the semester. The midterm exam (90 minutes) will be held in the first part of class on Saturday, March 1 (a class meeting will follow). There will be no final exam, but we will use the assigned time (Saturday, May 22) to turn in your paper and conduct a 15 minute classroom presentation of your research experience. The readings out of Berman (BER), Kahane (KAH), Pampel (PAM), and Pollock (POL) are given below.

Meeting 1 - February 1


BER 1 - Why Research? An Introduction

BER 2 - Univariate Analysis

POL 1 - Introduction to SPSS

POL 2 - Descriptive Statistics

KAH pp. 151-158 - Using Excel

(Web Link) - Learning Excel


POL 10 - Doing Your Own Political Analysis (1) Edwards

Wassmer, Moore, and Shulock (Web Link) - "Racial/Ethnic Differences in Transfer Rates in California Community Colleges: Implications for Policy and Practice" (2) Di Re

Meeting 2 - February 8


POL 3 - Making Comparisons

POL 4 - Transforming Variables in SPSS

POL 5 - Making Controlled Comparisons

BER 3 - Hypothesis Testing with Chi-Square

POL 7 - Chi-Square and Measures of Association


Cover Homework Part 1 From Meeting 1 (3) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 2 From Meeting 1 (4) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 3 From Meeting 1 (5) ____________________________________

Meeting 3 - February 15


BER 4 - Measures of Association

BER 5 - T-Tests and Anova

POL 6 - Making Inferences About Sample Means

(Web Link) - Learning PowerPoint


Cover Homework Part 1 From Meeting 2 (6) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 2 From Meeting 2 (7) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 3 From Meeting 2 (8) ____________________________________

Meeting 4 - February 22


BER 6 - Regression 1: Estimation

KAH 1 - An Introduction to the Linear Regression Model

KAH 2 - The Least-Squares Estimation Method: Fitting Lines to Data

POL 8 - Correlation and Regression


Cover Homework Part 1 From Meeting 3 (9) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 2 From Meeting 3 (10) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 3 From Meeting 3 (11) ____________________________________

Meeting 5 - March 1

Midterm Examination


KAH 3 - Model Performance and Evaluation

KAH 4 - Multiple Regression Analysis

KAH 5 - Nonlinear, Dummy, Interaction, and Time Variables

POL 9 - Dummy Variables and Interaction Effects


Cover Homework Part 1 From Meeting 4 (12) ____________________________________

Cover Homework Part 2 From Meeting 4 (13) ____________________________________

Meeting 6 - March 8

KAH 6 - Some Common Problems in Regression Analysis

BER 7 - Regression 2: Assumptions, Time Series

BER 8 - Advanced Statistics

KAH 7 - Where to Go From Here


Cover Homework From Meeting 5 (14) ____________________________________

Wassmer (Web Link) - "The Influence of Local Fiscal Structure and Growth Control Choices on "Big-Box" Urban Sprawl in the American West"  (15) ____________________________________

Meeting 7 - March 15

PAM (Entire Book) - Logistic Regression: A Primer

Labor Market Effects of School Quality (BURT), Chapter 5

Wassmer (Web Link): Checklist for Final Paper


Cover Homework From Meeting 6 (16) ____________________________________

 De Anda - "Mexican-Origin Women's Employment Instability" (17) ____________________________________

Meeting 8 - March 22

Turn in Paper

10-15 Minute PowerPoint Presentation from Each Student


In order to receive a grade in this course, each student is required to complete a short (15-20 double-spaced pages) empirical paper on the topic of their choosing and present the paper using PowerPoint in last meeting. You will need to gather data for this paper on your own.  Details on the paper will be given in class. The paper should follow the format prescribed in the handout that I provide. The student papers, listed on the web, are excellent examples to look at.


You will be required each week to complete a one to two-page, double-spaced, typed answer to questions that I will ask that relate to reading assignments. A total of 6 homework assignments will be given and collected.  This is not required for the first and last meetings. The answers to these questions will be due on the meeting that they are scheduled to be covered and discussed in class.

The written answers to my questions and homework will be looked over and assigned grades ranging from A+ (4.3) to D (1.0), and F (0.0 - for not completing on time). A separate grade for each will be given and a total average derived.

The midterm test grade accounts for 25 percent of your final course grade. The paper you are required to complete accounts for 25 percent of your final grade. The average of all homework assignments account for 25 percent of your final grade. The remaining 25 percent of your grade is based on classroom participation and your PowerPoint presentation. You must take the midterm exam and complete the paper to pass the class.

Scoring for Midterm:

Percent Correct Letter Grade Number Grade
100-94 A+ 4.3
93-89 A 4.0
88-84 A- 3.7
83-79 B+ 3.3
78-74 B 3.0
73-69 B- 2.7
68-64 C+ 2.3
63-59 C 2.0
58-54 C- 1.7
53-40 D 1.0
<40 F 0.0

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