Making Sense of Crim Data
This workbook contains the lab materials and homework assignments for an introduction to data analysis course designed for LAWS20441 Making Sense of Criminological Data, a 2nd year undergraduates on the BA Criminology programme at the University of Manchester.
It makes use of Excel, as we have identified a gap in training students to use Excel, despite it being a primary tool for data analysis (whether we like it or not) in many public and private sector organisations. As many students take Q-step internships, this skill was identified as important.
Making Sense of Crim Data introduces students to data, and the concepts of descriptive data analysis. The role of this term is to familiarise students with basic concepts of data analysis, and get aquainted with descriptive statistics to be able to talk about data about crime, policing, and criminal justice topics. Details can be found in the Syllabus.
Please beware that:
- In making these notes, while I briefly cover some concepts, students are expected to do the weekly reading, and attend the weekly lectures, as well as participate in lab disucssions to receive a complete course experience. These notes are not intended to be a stand-alone reference or textbook, rather a set of exercises to gain hands-on practice with the concepts introduced during the course.
- These pages are the content of the BA Criminology 2nd year course Making Sense of Criminological Data. They are meant to (very gently) introduce undergraduates to the concept of data analysis, and cover descriptive statsitics and the key concepts required to build an understanding of quantitative data analysis in crime research. It is followed in the second term by Modeling Criminological Data where students cover inferential statistics. The notes presented here are supported by compulsory reading and some lectures, and so do not provide a comprehensive description of these techniques and tools and how to use them.
- The handouts below use, among other data sets, dara from the UK data service such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales that is available under a Open Government Licence. This dataset is designed to be a learning resource and should not be used for research purposes or the production of summary statistics.
0.2 Overview of course
0.2.1 Module structure
Hi there and welcome to this course for making sense of criminological data. This introduction will explain the structure of the course.
The course is 10 weeks, each week made up of 5 elements:
- Preparatory reading
- Lab session
- Post-lab task
- Homework quiz
0.2.1.1 1) Preparatory reading
For each week you will receive some preliminary reading or videos to watch, before coming to the session. It is very important that you read these before coming to the lab session, as it will make engaging with the lab material easier. Also, you can take the labs as an opportunity to ask questions about the readings, and discuss with myself and the teaching assistants during the 2-hour lab sessions.
0.2.1.2 2) Lab session
Lab sessions are the two-hour sessions in computer labs, where you are to work through the lab notes included in this book. You should take time to engage with these notes, and ask lots of questions from myself and the teaching assistants present. This is a time to really engage with the materials.
When you come into a lesson, you will be able to sit at a PC and get started straight away. You will find the instructions for each week in this booklet. You can open up the link via Blackboard, and read through the instructions chronologically. That just means start at the top, and read through to the bottom.
These lab notes also contain within them activities. Activities will be denoted by red colour text, just like this one You should do these activities in the lab, and ask for our help when you are stuck, or if you do not understand a concept. These activities will help you with your learning, but also will contribute towards your homework. You are welcome to discuss with each other, and with us, but please do make sure that when it comes to understanding the learning behind these activities, you are confident in your ability. The final essay will rely heavily on your ability to take the concepts you learn duing the activities, and apply them in a way that shows your understanding.
0.2.1.3 3) Post-lab task
Each week, after you have completed the lab notes, you must complete some post-lab tasks. These will take the form of a worksheet. You can find each worksheet and relevant material (eg: data) on Blackboard in the folder for that week. There will also always be a link at the bottom of the lab notes. You have to complete these tasks in order to be able to take the homework quiz (which is assessed). The tasks will always mirror the in-lab activities, so if you get through those, the task should be a breeze.
0.2.1.4 4) Homework quiz
Each week you will have to complete a homework quiz. This quiz is assessed, and your score on all the quizzes combined counts for 20% of your final mark (the other 80% is your final essay). The questions in the homework quiz will ask about key concepts from your reading, and about the answers to the post-lab task. Make sure that you have finished the task before you begin your homework quiz, and have it with you while you do so. The homework quiz will be available on Blackboard, and will be open on each Friday at 11:00am, and close the following Thursday at 9:00am. You can take the homework quiz any time between these times. You can take it only once. Once you activate the quiz, you will have only 30 minutes to complete it. Please make sure you are in a quiet environment where you will not be disturbed, with your reading notes and your post-lab task with you, so you can complete the homework quiz successfully. Upon submission you will receive immediate feedback.
Don’t forget your homework is graded, and counts towards your final mark. But you get to practice for completing the tasks with the activities in the lab. And if you have time left over, you can always complete these tasks here in the lab. No matter where you do them, by havign the tasks completed and with you when you take the quiz, you will be more confident in the homework quiz exercises.
0.2.1.5 5) Lectures
In the lectures we will go over one last time the basic concepts covered in that week. The lecture is the final event that should pull together all your learning from that week. It is your chance to ask questions, discuss, and further interrogate the material we cover. I encourage you to bring your own examples to lectures wherever you encounter them. Lectures are podcast, however they are also attendance monitored. You must attend, and sign in to these lectures to receive attendance credit.