Job talk suggestions

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    Alan Brown

    Hi folks,

    I have been invited to interview for a position at a University and rather than a research talk, they have asked me to prepare a 50 minute lecture geared toward 3 and 4th year Sociology majors introducing the concept of “Correlation”.

    Clearly I am going to emphasize the distinctions between correlation and causation, strength and direction of relationship, varieties (briefly) of correlation dealing with variables with ordinal and/or  categorical levels of measurement, and the coefficient of determination.  Following this discussion, I will remind them about Lieberson’s caution about social scientists passion for “Variance is happiness explained”

    I was thinking about using a discussion of racism and exploring some of the correlates that have been well established in the literature.  I don’t want to bore the heck of them though.  I am a huge fan of musical theater, and thought that I could play a bit of a tune from Avenue Q–a musical that is an equal opportunity offender.  The song is “Everyone’s a LIttle Bit Racist” (you can find it on youtube )  If that was too controversial, I thought perhaps “What can you do with a BA in English” to explore choice of major(I know, problematic in terms of Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation because of its level of measurement), time spent pursuing higher education, etc related to salary, occupational satisfaction, etc…

    Anyone have any tips or other suggestions?



    Micha Strack

    .10,.30,.50 for small, middle, strong effect,
    and the N, to reach significance
    so: in surveys we need r > .10
    (helpfull and easy to remeber)


    I would start with a more straight forward example before getting into what you have suggested. For example, I usually use number of hours used for revision in a week and their grades for a course. Once they understand that, then I move slowly to more complex examples. Just a suggestion. Hope it is useful. Good Luck.

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