This outline is also available in PDF.
Held: Wednesday, 23 January 2008
We start the course off in the normal way: By exploring the subject, your
motivations for studying the subject, and the ways in which we will study
- For Friday's class, please do all of Topic 1 and read the preliminaries for Topic 2.
- For Friday's class, please fill out the course survey.
- Why are you here?
- What is statistics, anyway?
- Some silly (or not-so-silly) examples.
- A bit about the course.
- Comparing sections.
- Parting thoughts.
- You are in section 3 of Grinnell's Introduction to Statistics,
which is cross-listed as SST-115 and MAT-115.
- My name is Samuel A. Rebelsky. I go by "Sam"
- My co-instructor is Katherine McClelland. She tends to go by "Katherine"
(or at least I think she does).
- We're still working on finding a class mentor.
- We'll start class with two related questions ...
- All-too-common answer: Because it's a requirement for Major
(e.g., Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology)
- So, why is it a requirement for that major?
- Other reasons we'd hope for
- It's a different way of approaching the world, and I consider the exploration of different ways to approach the world essential to my liberal arts eduction.
- Statistical data are used in many ways, and I want to be an informed citizen
- One perspective: The study of data
- How to summarize large quantities of data
- How to find useful patterns in data
- How do design techniques for gathering useful data
- More generally: A technique for understanding the world around us
- Employs a variety of techniques
- Some are quantitative: Formulae and the results of those formulate can tell us about data + Some are visual: We use charts and graphs and other drawings + Some are even algorithmic: We apply a series of operations
- Even more generally: A gateway to quantitative literacy, the ability to read and write quantitative information.
- Historical [modifid from Damn Lies and Statistics by Joel Best]
- Began with attempts to quantify information about
the state: population and aspects of populations. ("political arithmetic")
- People who gathered such information were called
- Eventually, the work they did was called
- In the 20th century, more general techniques were developed to understand and analyze data.
Every year since 1950, the number of American children gunned down
has doubled. (From Damned Lies and Statistics)
The Illinois legislature has appointed a task force to determine why
half of the babies born in Cook County Hospital are below median weight.
(approximate quotation from Chicago Tribune in early 1990's)
Most faculty receive only 5's and 6's on their end of course evaluations.
It's clearly a case of Lake Wobegon: Everyone is above average.
(overheard from a faculty colleague)
A study shows that the average worth of someone who attended Harvard
in the 1970's is close to half a billion dollars (based on
a past anecdote)
The increase of disease during the 1950's is directly
proportional to the increase of activity. Clearly,
activity causes disease. (Study described by wife).
- Our goal is to help you think statistically.
- To read and think criticially about statistical evidence
- To use statistical techniques to form conclusions or hypotheses about data
- To present statistical results in a variety of forms (spoken, written, visual)
- You do not learn these things by watching other people do them. You learn by practice.
- We use a workshop-style approach
- Most days, you'll work on a variety of problems in class with a partner
- You'll need to be an active participant in your own learning
- Working with a partner helps you improve your communication skills
two heads are better than one
- Our textbook is Workshop Statistics
- I recommend that you use a separate lab notebook to record your answers.
- There is a vast (or not so vast) infrastructure to help you with the course
- The class mentor, if we ever find one
- The resources of the Math Lab
- Your colleagues
- There are three sections of 115 this semester and two sections of 209
- 115 is intended for students without significant background in calculus
- Students with such background should consider switching to 209
- 209 is taught by statisticians; 115 is taught by users of statistics
- All three sections of 115 are using Workshop Statistics
- This section meets three days per week, the others meet four days
- Partialy because of that, we're taking a somewhat different approach to the
- I'm following a somewhat steady pace through the material, with one
Topic per day
- The other sections are mixing things up a bit, often requiring a bit
more out-of class work
- I'm also using a different statistics environment, R, rather than
- This section is also much bigger.
- Be responsible in exiting the building
- Conserve energy
- Don't damage experiments
- Two assignments for Friday
- Introductory survey
- Topic 1 in Workshop Staistics