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Statistics 21: General Information

Statistics 21: Spring 2006

Course Description

Statistics 21 is a service course designed primarily for Business students. It is not very mathematical. Neither linear algebra nor calculus is required, although some concepts seem more natural if you understand integration and differentiation. You do need to be comfortable with math at the level of high-school algebra (e.g., the equation of a straight line, plotting points, taking powers and roots, percentages). The middle of the course involves a fair amount of combinatorics--counting. Tight logical reasoning is crucial for success. The emphasis of the course is critical thinking about quantitative evidence. Topics include descriptive statistics, association, correlation, regression, elements of probability, elementary symbolic logic, chance variability, random variables, expectation, standard error, sampling, hypothesis tests, confidence intervals, experiments and observational studies, as well as common techniques of presenting data in misleading ways.

The course uses the internet to distribute information and provide interactive exercises and examples. The text book, syllabus, assignments, and scores are online. You will need to use a recent version of a web browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or Netscape. I recommend Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Microsoft Internet Explorer is a security risk to you, is not completely standards-compliant, and does not work as well with these materials. I strongly recommend that you not use Internet Explorer for anything.

To add the course, get on the telebears waiting list, attend the section you would like to be in, and submit the first two assignments on time. I cannot guarantee that you will be added to the class (the Fire Marshall limits the number of students who can be enrolled in a class in any given room), but in many years of teaching, I have always been able to add everyone who wants the course--eventually. Sending me email will not help.

Required Text: SticiGui Online Text. The online version is free. A printed copy will be made available in two volumes at Copy Central on the north side of campus. The first volume should be available by the second week of class. The printed copy is not quite the same as the online version. In particular, it cannot be interactive. Even if you buy the printed copy, you will need internet access to read the online text and to solve and submit the online assignments. Printing the book from the website yourself is a violation of copyright, and the difference in true cost is probably quite small.

Recommended Texts:

Midterm: There will be one midterm, during class. No alternate time will be offered; don't ask. Practice materials are available online.

You must bring a 100-question scantron form, a number 2 pencil and your student ID to the midterm. You may bring a page of notes, front and back (2 sides), a calculator, a pen, extra pencils and erasers, etc. You may not use any wireless device (including cell phones), a PDA, a computer, scratch paper, etc.

Final Exam: No alternate time will be offered. If you cannot attend the final, do not take the class. The final is cumulative. Practice materials are available online.

You must bring a 100-question scantron form, a number 2 pencil and your student ID to the final. You may bring two pages of notes, front and back (4 sides), a calculator, a pen, extra scantron forms to auction to people who forgot to bring their own, etc. You may not use any wireless device (including cell phones), a PDA, a computer, scratch paper, etc.

Homework assignments are due as posted online. Check the due dates frequently. No late assignments will be accepted, for any reason, including, but not limited to, internet congestion, system crashes, natural disasters, theft, and your pet's dietary idiosyncrasies. Don't ask. If you wait until the last hour to do an assignment, you substantially increase the risk that server traffic will delay your submission. You are allowed to submit each assignment up to five times before the due date. The last submission (not necessarily the one with the highest score) counts. Overall homework grades will be based on the number of assignments on which you score 85% or higher, with some bonus for getting 100%. You can see your score after each of the first three submissions. After the fourth and fifth, you can see your score and which problems you missed. After the due date, you can see the correct answers by revisiting the assignments. The exact homework grading scheme will depend on the number of assignments the class ends up completing, but I expect it to be something like this: with a one-percent bonus for every set on which you score 100%. Thus, if I end up assigning 25 homework sets, the maximum possible homework score would be 125%, corresponding to 100% on each set, plus 25 points of extra credit.

The homework assignments are substantially more difficult than the exams. They often require quite a bit of thought. They sometimes ask you to apply the material to more complex problems that---superficially---are not like any problem in the book. In contrast, the depth of exam questions is limited by the duration of the exam. Exam questions are more like the questions on the practice exams and in the book chapters. I design the exams so that the faster students will finish in less than half the time available. Most students do not feel time pressure in the exams.

Grading is the average of homework, midterm, and final, with equal weight, or the final by itself, if the final grade is higher. Grades will not be "curved," so you are not in competition with anyone else. It is possible for everyone to make an A (or an F). Grades on assignments and exams and the course grade will be available online.

Friendly advice

Do the reading assignment before lectures. You will get more from both the text and the lectures. Try to solve all exercises in each chapter: some show up on exams. Read all homework and exam questions carefully, and take them literally--don't try to second-guess what is meant. Come to office hours. Check the announcements at least twice a week.

Come to class: even though attendance at lectures is not required, things happen in class that are not in the book. You will miss out if you don't come.

A Warning

Most general questions about the course have answers in this page, the syllabus and assignments page, or the class announcements. Send me email only to report a typo in the text or a bug in the text. I may reduce your grade if you send me email for any other reason. For any other information or special requests (such as accommodating a learning disablility),

  1. come to my office hours
  2. see me before or after class, or during the in-class break
  3. email your GSI
  4. ask your GSI before, during, or after section
  5. go to GSI office hours (you can go to the office hours of any GSI, not just the GSI for your section)

Bug and typo reports

I am very grateful to be told about bugs and typos by email. But an error message caused by failure to follow directions is not a bug. If you are reporting a bug, be sure to include the following information, or it is unlikely that I can help you or fix the problem:

  1. your student ID number
  2. the browser you are using (Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer), including the version
  3. the operating system you are using (Mac, Windows, unix, linux), including the version
  4. a description of what you were doing when the problem occurred, including the page
  5. a description of the symptom, including the wording of any error message you received
  6. the time and date when the problem occurred.

Before you conclude that unexpected results are caused by a bug,

  1. Make sure you are using a compatible version of the browser.
  2. Make sure your browser has JavaScript, Java, and cookies enabled. I recommend that you accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating server, not "third-party" cookies.
  3. Make sure you do not try to scroll down the page before the page has fully loaded.
  4. Try a "hard reload:" hold down the shift key while reloading the page.
  5. Clear the browser's cache. In Firefox, this is in the Tools->Options->Privacy->Cache menu. Click "Clear Cache Now." While you are at it, go to the Tools->Options->Privacy->Cookies menu, and tell Firefox to accept cookies for the originating site only.
  6. Try restarting the browser after clearing its cache.
  7. Try restarting the computer.
  8. If the problem is that you cannot access an online assignment,
  9. If the problem is that applets display incorrectly, try turning off all graphics acceleration.

Tutors and other support

Outside tutors: the Statistics Department has a list of people who have offered to tutor introductory statistics. The Department does not vouch for the proficiency of the tutors, and makes no recommendation, but keeps a list as a service to students. The Student Learning Center also offers extra help in introductory statistics classes. They devote special resources to this course.

Graduate Student Instructors

You can attend the office hours of any of these GSIs, regardless of the section you are enrolled in. Moreover, the Statistics Department GSI office is staffed throughout the day, and GSIs from other classes can help you with some problems if they are not too busy with students from their courses.

GSI Office Hours email sections
Johann Gagnon-Bartsch M 4-5, Tu 4-6, W 4-5
307 Evans
johann AT 103, 115
Raffi Djihanian Tu, Th 2-4
307 Evans
raffid AT 106, 107
Ariel Evnine TBA
ariel AT 112, 114
Ron Peled Tu 4-5; Th 11:30-12:30; F 1-3
387 Evans
peledron AT 113, 105