Using Real Estate Websites to Learn Measures of Central Tendency


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This assignment, which requires students to use real-world data on home prices to generate and analyze measures of central tendency, can be adapted as an in-class assignment or homework assignment for undergraduate research methods or social statistics courses. Unlike many assignments on this subject, which use GSS or Census data, this assignment requires students to use online sources to gather their own data about their local community, enter it into SPSS on their own, and calculate—both by hand and using SPSS—measures that they can use to think deeply about shapes of distributions and how levels of measurement and research questions dictate appropriate measures of central tendency. Students enjoy using the real estate listings because they provide a visual representation of the data. The assignment is most effective when begun and followed up with a class discussion of why social scientists might be interested in studying home prices, including the social consequences of the distribution of home prices for the community.


Resource Type(s):
Assignment, Class Activity 
Rena Cornell Zito 
Date Published:
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Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Demonstrate understanding of how to calculate and interpret measures of central tendency; analyzes utility of various measures of central tendency on the basis of level of measurement and research question.
Assessment 1:
Collects data on home prices from real estate website, uses data to calculate and interpret mean, median, and mode. Identifies which measure is best for describing the “typical” home price. Answers provided on written assignment and discussed as a group.
Goal 2:
Use measures of central tendency to reach conclusions about the shape of a distribution.
Assessment 2:
Draws shape of distribution (on written assignment and on board) given the values of the calculated mean and median. Identifies outliers.
Goal 3:
Practice entering data into SPSS and using that data to generate basic statistics and figures
Assessment 3:
Creates SPSS data file containing a scale variable for home price. Uses Frequency commands to generate mean, median, and mode. Compares to values produced by hand. Generates histogram and compares to estimated shape of distribution.

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Instructions_Measures of Central Tendency.docx
Measures of Central Tendency assignment.docx