Anthropological Sciences 303

ANSC 303: Quantitative and Computer Methods in Anthropology

Prerequisites:  ANSC 201 and ANSC 301 or ANSC 302 or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (4) Three hours lecture; three hours laboratory

Through hands-on training with real and demonstrative data sets, students will learn a wide range of quantitative analytical techniques most frequently used in the field of anthropology. Course topics include basic computer methods, concepts of sampling and probability, and univariate and multivariate statistical analysis.

Note(s): Students cannot receive credit for both ANTH 482 and ANSC 303.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course will introduce ANSC majors to the range of quantitative and computer methods used in the discipline.  Specific focus will be on the basic statistical techniques widely used in anthropological research and professional literature, including univariate and multivariate analyses.  Special attention will be focused on a number of topics of special interest to anthropologists, including research design, sampling strategies, and the appropriate use of methods in the context of problem-oriented research.  The course will consist of both lecture and a computer laboratory component.  The laboratory component will center on hands-on analyses of real and demonstrative anthropological data sets.
    a. This course will address the following topics:
        i. Statistical and other quantitative methods used in anthropology:
            -Concepts in probability
            -Basic exploratory data analysis (EDA) using anthropological data sets
            -Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses
            -Other forms of quantitative analysis (calculations of abundance, diversity, risk, etc.) relevant to anthropological research
        ii. Sampling strategies and problems in quantitative analyses in anthropology
            -Varieties of random sampling strategies
            -Non-random sampling
            -Spatial sampling
            -Sampling at multiple scales
        iii. Software and computer applications used in basic quantitative and spatial analyses
                -The use of spreadsheets for basic data summary
            -The use of statistical software for exploratory data analysis (EDA), univariate analysis, and multivariate analysis
            -Introduction to databases
        iv. Software and computer applications used in the presentation and publication of quantitative analyses

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The lecture component of the course will be devoted to presentation and discussion of major course concepts. These concepts will be reinforced through a selection of readings on quantitative analyses and case studies taken directly from the anthropological literature. Special attention in lecture and discussion will be placed on the use of appropriate methods and clear verbal and written interpretations of results.
The laboratory component will be computer-intensive. Lab time will de devoted to introducing students to a variety of software essential to the use of quantitative analyses. Each week in lab students will work through examples, in a classroom that encourages collaboration and group work under the supervision of the instructor. Students will receive hands-on training in labs using a variety of real and invented anthropological data sets.  Finally, lab time will be used to explore varying ways of presenting the results of quantitative analyses in tabular and graphical formats.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students completing this course will be able to:
    a. discuss the different varieties of quantitative data usually encountered in anthropology.
    b. access, understand, and evaluate the use of quantitative data in anthropological literature.
    c. develop a sampling strategy in response to a basic research question.
    d. apply a range of statistical tools and computer applications to the evaluation of data in the context of problem-oriented research.
    e. use a range of computer applications in the development of tabular and graphical forms of presentation of data and analytical results.

Assessment Measures

Three assessment measures will be used in this class. These include exams, in-class lab exercises, and take-home exercises. Exams will include both written sections and quantitative problems. In-class and take-home exercises will be handed in and graded weekly in order to ensure that students have mastered a particular set of concepts. This approach is specifically designed in response to the cumulative nature of understanding mathematical concepts.

Other Course Information

Review and Approval
December, 2009

June 15, 2015