Screen shot 2017 12 10 at 8.17.21 pm

Research Methods is a mandatory course for all majors, POL220 in turn is the research methods course for political science majors. This class is research focused, but there is also a decent amount of work in SPSS, a computer program that is behind studying data and how different data sets interacts with one another. This class is only offered at 8 A.M., but there are rumors that it is moving to the afternoon next semester, so make sure to check the timing before signing up.

1. Go To Class

This class cannot be passed without going to class as the professor will do random quizzes, and often the professor doesn’t even grade them, but they count as a 100% as a quiz grade. When the assignments are graded, they are graded roughly and mainly for participation. On top of quizzes, in class assignments are a daily occurrence, and those are also submitted in-class. Regardless of the grade, to understand SPSS, class sessions will show you how to do the work that is otherwise impossible to figure out.

2. Do The Workbook

There is an SPSS workbook that is used in this course, and many students choose not to use it as it is optional. The homework and final exam are all SPSS based, and it is possible to just learn through class, but if you actually DO the workbook, which entails a small amount of reading, and mostly computing, you will be set up for great success!

3. Work With a Partner

This is not the easiest class. It is great to have a study partner or group that you can lean on once in a while. If you’re ever struggling to find out how to solve a problem or the next step you simply can work together to find a solution. This is especially helpful towards the end of the semester as the open note final needs a lot of preparation, and working together can really ease this process.

4. Go Into Office Hours

SPSS is one of the harder programs used in a college course, and the professor understands this, but there is still an expectation that the information and program will be learned. Going into office hours is a great way to stay on top of learning the information and also inspiring your teacher that you care, which come examination time, your interpretations are probably going to be graded a bit nicer.

5. Prepare for the Exams

There are two exams in this class that account for a large chunk of your final grade. The first exam is based on vocab and knowledge surrounding research terminology. This is like a traditional test and you simply must learn/memorize all of the terms. The second exam is all SPSS based as you have to plug and chug a lot of numbers through multiple formulas. As mentioned earlier, the final exam is open note, and this is key in terms of preparation. The professor will give you a study guide that lays out how to do each question. Be thorough, over prepare as this can be a huge boost to your grade at the end of the course.


Research methods is a challenging and long course (especially at 8 A.M.). The professors are engaging and enthusiastic about the subject and encourage interaction. Obviously at 8 A.M. there is a bit of a struggle, but if you remain engaged, the energy will be more than matched by your professor. Make sure to go to class and figure out SPSS, no matter if you have to do the workbook, meet in office hours, and practice again, do whatever it takes! Good luck, and enjoy POL220 Research Methods!


Skyler De Groot