Top SPSS Functions for the IR Professional

(Return to Workshop Listing)

Pam Borkowski-Valentin, Swarthmore College

Laptop required
Software required: SPSS (version 18 or later); Excel (any version)

To participate an attendee will need to:

1. Have SPSS version 18 or later on their laptop.
2. Have Excel (any version) on their laptop.
3. Have opened SPSS so that they are familiar with the basic layout of the software, and be comfortable moving between the Data View and Variable View tabs. Participants do not need to have used the point-and-click graphical user interface (GUI) or syntax before this workshop.

*Please note: in order for the workshop to begin on time and cover all material as described, participants are expected to arrive at the workshop with all software and supplemental materials pre-loaded on to their laptops.
There are a number of key SPSS functions that help an Institutional Researcher to format and analyze data sets. While it is useful to work with these functions in the point-and-click guided user interface (GUI), using SPSS syntax also allows Institutional Researchers to document, modify, and replicate work in a more efficient manner. Syntax is especially useful for repeated data formatting (student status, athletic status, demographic information, majors, etc.) and outputs for repeated projects (e.g., CDS tables, IPEDS reporting, Fact Books, or any other recurring project). 

In this workshop, we will walk through short exercises that provide an overview of selected essential SPSS functions using IR specific examples. I will first demonstrate functions using point-and-click GUI, and participants will then use example files (provided) to step through functions on their laptops. We will then examine these functions using SPSS syntax, which will allow participants to better document, modify or replicate their work, leading to increased efficiency. Workshop participants will gain a better understanding of the following topics and SPSS functions (GUI and syntax):
  • why use syntax;
  • three ways to get syntax into the editor;
  • identifying duplicate cases and unduplicating;
  • recoding;
  • adding value labels;
  • sorting by multiple measures for checks/troubleshooting;
  • selecting cases if conditions are satisfied;
  • crosstabs;
  • aggregating by ID;
  • creating variables (including 'if' cases);
  • substrings; and
  • concatenation.

Intended Learning Outcomes:
Participants in this workshop will:

1. Better understand a number of SPSS functions that are essential to IR work.
2. Utilize the functions with the SPSS point-and-click GUI.
3. Understand reasons to use SPSS syntax.
4. Learn how to incorporate SPSS syntax into repeated and new projects.