Can You Repeat That Please?: Using Monte Carlo Simulation in Graduate Quantitative Research Methods Classes

Thomas M. Carsey, Jeffrey J. Harden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Citations

Abstract

Graduate students in political science come to the discipline interested in exploring important political questions, such as “What causes war?” or “What policies promote economic growth?” However, they typically do not arrive prepared to address those questions using quantitative methods. Graduate methods instructors must provide the quantitative tools and statistical knowledge for answering these questions through data analysis. Often this is done with a heavy emphasis on lecture and textbook training, which comes with an array of Greek letters, formulae, and formal proofs, or by walking students through point-and-click statistical software without ever seriously engaging the underlying mathematical concepts. Neither approach is ideal because they both leave students lacking real understanding of core concepts. In this article, we discuss a useful alternative: Monte Carlo simulation. Simulations allow students to experience and visualize the meaning of core statistical concepts and to make comparisons between various statistical methods. We describe how simulation can illustrate these difficult concepts and improve comprehension of foundational material, even for students with minimal quantitative backgrounds.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages94-107
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Political Science Education
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015

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quantitative research
quantitative method
research method
graduate
simulation
student
statistical method
political science
textbook
instructor
comprehension
data analysis
economic growth
cause
experience

Keywords

  • graduate instruction
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • quantitative methods
  • repeated samples

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Can You Repeat That Please? : Using Monte Carlo Simulation in Graduate Quantitative Research Methods Classes. / Carsey, Thomas M.; Harden, Jeffrey J.

In: Journal of Political Science Education, Vol. 11, No. 1, 02.01.2015, p. 94-107.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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