The suggested data to use with the exercises is the European Social Survey Round 4. Since the
data file is quite large, it is suggested that one uses only a subset of the
data while doing the exercises, for example, only Finnish data. The data files
are available as free downloads from the ESS
after a quick registration.

How to Obtain a Copy of the Course Data

  1. Download the Finnish data
  2. see some documentation
  3. Go to the European Social Survey homepage.
  4. Click “New User” on the left-hand navigation bar. Note that the registration form uses faulty code, and the form labels are visible only with Internet Explorer 6.0.
  5. Fill in the form, and click “Register”.
  6. Go to ESS round 2 data download page, and select the country data you wish to use on this course from the drop-down list. The default subset is for Finland.
  7. Download the SPSS file by clicking on the SPSS icon on the country file row.
  8. At this point, enter the email address you just registered with as your username.
  9. Save the data to your course folder.
  10. Next, download the Variables and questions list and the Variable list which you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the survey data.

Final Report Guidelines


The final report will be written in groups of two after the first four group meetings. On the 5th group meeting (support group) the teacher will look through the preliminary reports and give feedback on them. The more work you have put to the report before this meeting, the easier it will be for you to finish the report on your own.

*The presentation version of the report has to be submitted to the instructor and the peer evaluators till the day indicated in the Course schedule. The final report groups will present their work and the peer evaluation groups their critique on the 6th group meeting.

Final Report Groups

The report groups will consist of two people from the same practice group. You are free to choose you pair, or if needed, the group instructor will divide you into pairs. The final report groups will be formed during the 4th group meeting. The group instructor will assign a peer evaluator group for each final report group so that every report group has to both write a final report and evaluate another report.


The report group has to formulate a research question from the course data, i.e. one independent variable, one dependent variable, and possibly a third background variable. Using the methods learnt during the course, the group seeks to answer the research question in the final report. The research questions have to be approved by the group instructor. Email your research questions to the instructor by the time informed in the 4th session.

In order to get a passing grade, you have to do the following things in your final report:

  • Explain and justify your choice of variables
  • Present their basic statistics and distributions
  • Explain and justify the variable transformations you have done
  • Answer the research question with meaningful methods
  • Edit the charts and graphs so that they are fit for publication
  • Give your charts and graphs concise and informative headlines
  • Interpret your charts and graphs
  • Write a short summary on your main findings

See the sample charts for guidelines on how you should edit your charts and graphs.

Final Report Length

The ideal length of the final report is 5 pages including charts and graphs. The written part should be concise and to the point.

Peer Evaluation

The job of the peer evaluators is to preexamine the final report and present their critique in the final meeting. The peer reviewers will go through each of the eight requirements of the final report, and give a short statement on each:

  • Has the choice of variables been explained and justified?
  • Have the basic statistics and distributions been presented?
  • Have the variable transformations been explained and justified?
  • Has the research question been answered with meaningful methods?
  • Have the charts and graphs been edited according to the requirements?
  • Have the charts and graphs been given concise and informative headlines?
  • Have the charts and graphs been interpreted?
  • Has a short summary on the main findings been written?

In addition to a short presentation in the final meeting the evaluators print out and fill a peer evaluation form, which they will hand in to the instructor in the beginning of the last meeting. (So make a copy of the form if you use it yourself when making your presentation.)


Every final report group will give a short oral presentation during the last group meeting. The presentation should cover the research question, a summary of the findings and a chart or graph which demonstrates the findings. Both of the students responsible for the report should participate equally in the presentation. The maximum length of the presentation is 10 minutes, after which the peer evaluators have 5 minutes to present their critique. The possible files needed in the presentation should be brought along on a USB memory stick or saved in a folder accessible with a web browser.

After the presentation and the peer evaluator’s report the group instructor will decide if the work needs further review before submitting it for grading. The written report can be revised before submitting the final version even if the group instructor gives you a permission to submit it. The revised versions of the final report have to be handed in by the time indicated in the Course schedule. The final versions will be emailed (allowed formats: .doc, .odt, or .pdf) to the following addresses: timo.harmo(at) . and ari.erti(at)


The course will be graded passed – not passed. Half of the grade consists of the quality of the written report, 25% consists of the presentation of the report, and 25% of the grade consists of the quality of the peer evaluation.

General information

Course Description

The aim of the course is to learn the basics of the SPSS for Windows program. SPSS is used on quantitative methods courses, where you’ll need
the skills learnt on this course. The course is at its most useful when taken just before the quantitative methods course of your major subject. The course participants should be familiar with ICT basics and basic statistics. Only students of the Faculty of Social Science can participate in the course.


The course consists of four two-hour group meetings, a written final report done in groups of two, a support session for the writing the report and the oral presentation of the report in the final meeting. Additionally, every report group (consisting of 2 students each) has to examine critically one final report, and present their criticism in the final meeting.

The course requires a lot of work relative to the number of credits if understanding statistical concepts is not one of your strengths. In addition to participating in the group meetings, you need to study the course materials autonomously.

  • Group meetings – The use of the SPSS program is practiced in the first four lab-session. Active participation in all of the meetings is obligatory to complete the course.
  • Final report – In addition to class attendance everyone is expected to write a final report, which is a small research project based on the course data. The methods learnt during the course will be applied in the final report. The report will be written in groups of two people after the fourth meeting of the course. There is a (obligatory) support session for report writing. The final reports will be turned in on the last meeting, when the groups will present their findings and criticisms.
  • Report deadline– The reports or their preliminary versions must be sent to the opponent-group and the instructor latest on the date indicated in the Course schedule.
  • Peer evaluation – In addition to presenting their own work, every report group serves as an opponent to one other final report in the final meeting. The quality of the peer evaluation counts as part of the course grade.

Completion and Grading

The completion of the course is worth 2 credit points. The course is graded on a scale of passed / failed. Passing grade requires a passing final report, acceptable oral report and peer evaluation, and presence at the meetings,


The exercises are based on a course material in Finnish by Mia Teräsaho.

User account

Please make sure before the beginning of the course that you have a valid standard user account. If you can log in to the computers at the faculty or faculty library, everything should be in order. For more information on user accounts see the IT department’s web pages. If you have problems with your user account, contact the user account office.

Contact persons

The teacher of the course is Ari Erti. Email ari.erti (at)
Timo Harmo should be contacted in general matters concerning ICT-studies. Email timo.harmo (at) .