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Sociology of Education 2P06 September 16, 2011

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McMaster University
Mark Mckerrow

September 16, 2011 1. Classroom Observation • can be part of randomized experiment • some topics – pedagogical approaches – student interaction – teacher-student interaction – usually done in elementary school • Useful – richness of direct observation – self reports are suspect Causation and Correlation • if we think that one thing (x) causes another (y) we think that they will vary together • eg. if we thinks that caloric intake (x) increases body mass (y) we would expect that higher caloric intakes is associated with higher body mass Manipulating X • if we manipulate the cause, the outcome will change • we often can’t manipulate x – so if we see x or y vary together without our having influenced x – eg How much does education increase wage? • cannot manipulate: examine existing relationship Correlation does not Imply Causation • If X causes Y, then we think that X and Y will (almost) always vary together • We are looking for relationships between X and Y to estimate causal effects • But, we don’t think that when two things vary together, one is always causing/influencing the other • Even when it is, it is often not the only influence – wage doubles for a bachelor’s degree – but other factors may influence this such as where people are being surveyed from Problem: Confounding Variable • Education is related to class background – Two categories in this example: upper & lower class • Class background is related to wage Confounding Variable • Education and class background vary at the same time: maybe class background—not education—increases wage • We want to “hold class background constant” • Solution: consider upper- and lower-class background as two sepa
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