Department of Sociology

Thomas Pullum

Ph.D., University of Chicago

Professor Emeritus; Director of Research, The Demographic and Health Surveys Program, ICF International
Thomas Pullum



Dr. Pullum's main interests are in human fertility, especially in developing countries, and in the development of quantitative research methods in sociology and demography. He has worked with several large demographic and fertility surveys, often with serious reporting biases, in an effort to infer trends and differentials in fertility. Recent research has focused on identifying social and contextual influences upon the fertility behavior of individual women.

Additional interests include the mathematics of kinship and the indirect estimation of vital rates from historical data such as genealogies.

NIH Biosketch


SOC 384M • Data Analysis: Dept Evaluation

46670 • Fall 2009
Meets M 1200-300pm BUR 480

The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Sociology

Sociology 384M                                                                                                        Unique No. 46670
Data Analysis: Department Evaluation                                                                T. Pullum, Instructor
Fall Semester 2009                                                                      Office Hours  MTW10-11, BUR 518
M 12-3, BUR 480                                 E-mail:

In the Department of Sociology, 384M is a generic course number for a seminar on practical issues in data analysis.  Students are allowed to take different versions of the course.  This specific edition of 384M will undertake an evaluation of the Department of Sociology.  There are two primary goals: to give students practical experience in evaluation research, and to prepare a report, including detailed descriptions of the undergraduate and graduate programs, assessments, and recommendations for future changes, that will be useful to the Department of Sociology.  Students who take this course can count it toward either a methodology or a professionalization requirement.  

A review of the graduate program was done in the context of a graduate seminar in Fall Semester 1997, with presentation of the results and recommendations to the the entire department in Spring 1998.  The present evaluation will include the undergraduate program, as well, although with more emphasis on the graduate program.  There was an external evaluation of the department in 2003.  The Department recently had to post a detailed description of a continuous monitoring system for the B.A, M.A., and Ph.D. programs, as part of OATS (Online Assessment Tracking System).  This was required as part of the university’s periodic accreditation.

The overall structure of the evaluation will be a group effort, but each student will take primary responsibility for specific components, and secondary or backup responsibility for some other components.  The content of the course will depend partly on the number of students, their interests, and the rate of data collection.  

Some of the data collection may involve interviews of current students or faculty.  These interviews will be restricted to professional topics.  

One of the first tasks of the seminar will be to develop an SOW or “Scope of Work” (also called a TOR or “Terms of Reference”) for the evaluation and an outline for the report.  Here is a preliminary outline of the report:

Executive Summary

Background and objectives

Methodology and data sources
In-depth interviews
Group discussions
Departmental staff
Comparative perspectives:
    Other departments in the university
    Sociology departments in other universities

Undergraduate program:
Source of students
Courses offered
Areas of specialization
Student-faculty relationship
Honors program

Graduate program:
Courses offered
Areas of specialization
Mentoring and professionalization
Financial support and honors
TA and AI selection, preparation, etc.

    Scope of Work
    Specific data sources, questionnaires

Dates of class meetings:

August 31
September 14, 21, 28
October 5, 12, 19, 26
November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

SOC 317L • Intro To Social Statistics

87765 • Summer 2009
Meets MTWTHF 1000-1130 BUR 112
(also listed as SSC 305)


This course presents a general overview of the statistical methods used in the social sciences. While it’s important that you gain an understanding of the mathematical concepts behind the statistical analyses, it is of even greater importance that you leave this course with a conceptual and rational understanding of today’s most commonly used (and useful) statistical methods.

Truth claims made with statistics are abundant and often have the quality of facts in U.S. social and political life. Unfortunately, because many people do not understand the statistics undergirding these claims, they receive less scrutiny than they deserve. It is my primary goal to ensure that students learn the basic statistical literacy they need to be smart consumers of information. Our increasing reliance on statistics to understand the social world means that statistical and analytic skills are marketable skills. In fact statistics is one of very few classes that sociology majors take that provides them with concretely marketable skills. I believe that giving undergraduates a solid understanding of statistics is a way of democratizing knowledge and its production. In teaching statistics my goals are:

  •   To demystify statistics so that every student can be a smart consumer of quantitative information.

  •  To teach students to think sociologically with and about quantitative information.

  • To provide students with a solid foundation of quantitative and computing skills that could serve

    as assets in subsequent employment and academic settings.

  •   To demonstrate to students that learning statistics has practical applications outside of the       classroom in everyday life.


Salkind, Neil J.. 2012. Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics: Excel 2010 Edition. 3rd Edition. SAGE Publications. 

Grading and Reqirement:

I will use a non-competitive grading scale. In other words, the grade you receive will not depend on how well others have performed in class. You can earn a maximum of 115 points in this class. Your grade will be based on your mastery of each of the required tasks in the class. The grading scale for the final course grade is as follows: 115-94=A; 90-93=A-; 87-89=B+; 83-86=B; 80-82-B-; 77-79=C+; 73-76=C; 70-72=C-; 67- 69=D+; 63-66=D; 60-62=D-; 59 & below=F.

I do not give incomplete and will not change the final grade for whatever reason. You have plenty of opportunities to do well in this class. Use them.

If you receive a final grade of B+ or higher, I will write a personal recommendation for you in the future, stating that you have significant quantitative and computing skills.CLASS & LAB ATTENDANCE 10 PTS

As will be addressed later in detail, you have two free absences you can choose. However, I’d recommend you to use them only for emergencies. More than two absences will affect your class attendance grades negatively.

Profile Pages

External Links

  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    CLA 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086