Ed Nelson

Ed Nelson is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Social Research Laboratory (SRL) at California State University, Fresno. As the Director of SRL, part of the College of Social Sciences, he provides leadership for the lab and mentorship to the student researchers who work and study at the center. He is the campus representative and serves in multiple capacities in the Social Science Research and Instructional Council (SSRIC), which consists of centers on California State University campuses. Also, Nelson serves as the ICPSR Official Representative for California State University, Fresno, and served on the ICPSR council from 1996 to 2000. In 2005, he was the recipient of William H. Flanigan Award in recognition of his many contributions to ICPSR as an Official Representative.

Nelson has been involved in the development of instructional materials for over 30 years. He has led workshops in SPSS and SDA and has contributed to teaching resources by creating modules, classroom exercises, as well as online textbooks. Additionally, he has submitted and reviewed resources on Merlot, an NSDL pathway; ICPSR’s SIMI project, now a part of the Online Learning Center; and TeachingWithData.org which is also an NSDL pathway. His most recent publication is SPSS for Windows Version 16.0 A Basic Tutorial, written with Linda Fiddler, Laura Hecht, Elizabeth Ness Nelson, and James Ross, and published by McGraw Hill.

Nelson strives to bring quality data to students in his department and college through his work with SSRIC and SRL. He says that there has been a great improvement in the availability of reliable teaching resources for introducing students to the concepts that can be illustrated using data. Today, faculty can access resources that have been written by other faculty for use in their own classrooms. And data-related resources that can be found on sites like SSDAN and OLC and many others can be easily taken into the classroom.

Currently, Nelson teaches Critical Thinking about Society, a three credit course required for student majoring in Sociology and offered to satisfy a general education requirement at California State University, Fresno. In part, the students learn how to develop and write a hypothesis, create a table from provided data, test their hypotheses, and report what they have learned. This class is taken before the students take research methods or statistics class.

Nelson says that “students gain a sense of accomplishment when they develop a hypothesis, test it, see the results of their work and its outcome, and articulate that in a written format.” Further, he said, ”the hypothesis-building process is the best way for students to lay a foundation upon which further research skills can be built.” And having that experience early in their college career is a real plus when pursuing a social science degree, he added.

Nelson began teaching at CSU, Fresno in 1973 and earned his PhD in Sociology at UCLA in 1968.
Sue Hodge

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