Course Description

PA and Policy Inquiry serves as the "methods" course for the MPA curriculum. However, unlike traditional methods course, this course is aimed at those who are or soon will be administrators, as opposed to those who wish to be Social Science Researchers. The course covers the same concepts, same designs, and same tools, but has a different focus. This course is focused on potential action and decision making informed by analytical analysis. While the student will be able to design and understand research set up to provide causal explanation, this will not be the main focus.

Learning Objectives

  • Attain a good conceptual understanding of "statistical" thinking.
  • Understand the tools of analytic decision making.
  • Be able to understand  and work with different types of research designs.
  • Be able to use Microsoft Excel for basic statistical operations and analysis


  1. Statistical Forms of Logic Assignment
  2. Indicators of Excellence and Satisfaction Assignment
  3. Frequency Distributions, Graphs and Charts Assignment
  4. Average, Deviation and Normal Curve Quiz
  5. Contingency Tables and Chi Square Quiz
  6. Validity and Sampling Quiz
  7. Statistical Inference and Hypothesis Testing Quiz
  8. Linear Regression Quiz
  9. Research Design Quiz
  10. Final project - students design a study, conduct the study, analyze the data and present to a client organization


  • 60% assignments
  • 20% final paper
  • 10% final presentation
  • 10% class participation

Required Materials

  • (Later in Semester) Statistical Analysis with Excel for Dummies by Joseph Schmuller

Course Sessions

Introduction to Inquiry and the Forms of Statistical Reasoning

Introduction of teacher and students. Introduction to the purpose and focus of the course. Introduction to Nine Major Statistical Ideas.

Categories, Classification, Measurements, and Scales

Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, Ratio

Descriptive Statistics - Textual and Graphical Representations

Tables, Frequency Distributions, Percentage Frequency Distributions, Cummulative Frequency Distributions, Bar Graphs, Histographs, Line Graphs, Pie Charts

Descriptive Statistics - Numerical Representations

Mode, Median, Arithmetic Mean, Weighted Average, Means and Medians from Grouped Data

Analysis of Nominal and Ordinal Data

Construction and Analysis of Contingency Tables, Statistical Aids for Interpretation, Control Table Analysis

Validity and Sampling

Conclusion Validity, Internal Validity, Construct Validity, External Validity, Sampling Error, Sampling Distribution, Probability Sampling, Non-Probability Sampling

Hypothesis Testing and the t-Test

Hypotheses and Statistical Decision Making, Testing Hypotheses with Populations, Testing Populations with Samples

Linear Regression

Linear Statistical Relationships, Standard Error of the Estimate, The Coefficient of Determination, The Standard Error of the Slope

Research Design

Research Designs for Description, Research Designs for Explanation

Draft Instrument Design

Project Team Meetings

Pilot Testing and Final Instrument Design

Project Team Meetings

Statistics in Excel

Computer Lab - Data Collection

Data Collection & Analysis Draft

Whole Class Meets - Report & Presentation

Presentation to Client

Final Analysis Due